In most churches or ministries there’s no shortage of things to do. In fact, you could probably be busy every night of the week doing something. But, there’s only one thing Jesus commissioned his followers to do.
It’s one of Jesus’ last recorded statements. Many of you will know it well. We refer to it as the great commission…
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
He could have said anything he wanted. After all, every bit of authority that exists had been given to him. He told his followers to do one thing…make disciples. Baptize them and teach them everything they were taught. That’s it. That’s our task.
Since Making disciples is our one and only task, it should be the one thing we focus on, the one thing we know how to do well. So, I was really interested to see Barna’s new research on the State of Discipleship. Several things jumped out to me…
- More than 1/3 of Christians who believe spiritual growth is important prefer to pursue spiritual growth on their own
- 2 out of 5 Christian adults consider their spiritual life to be “entirely private”
- 33% of Christians believe their faith has an impact on their community
- Millions of Christians believe discipleship only has personal and private implications
- 1/3 of Christian adults say their church recommends meeting with a spiritual mentor
- 23% of Christians are currently being discipled by someone
- 19% of Christians are discipling someone else
- Less than 1% of church leaders report using a survey or other evaluation instrument to assess the results of their programs
This particular study was interesting to me because it was commissioned by the Navigators. But, the implications of this study go way beyond what we do in campus ministry.
In every church, in every ministry, every follower of Christ needs a renewed focus on discipleship. We have one task: make disciples that make disciples that make disciples.[bctt tweet=”We have one task: make disciples that make disciples that make disciples.”]
There are two areas in particular where I think we’d do well to focus…
1. You learn to follow Jesus in community.
The whole “I love Jesus but not the church” sentiment isn’t new but it’s just as wrongheaded now as it’s ever been. I’ve written it before but it’s worth repeating: we learn to follow Jesus by watching someone closely as they follow Jesus.
Jesus modeled this. He spent three years with 12 guys and it changed the world. He impacted the masses by focusing on a few.
If we’re going to experience a renewed focus on discipleship, it will happen in community, not in isolation.
2. Having an impact on the world is one of the marks of a disciple.
Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8, NIV). Basically, fruit means evidence. “Bearing fruit” serves as proof that we’re disciples.
Primarily, you see this fruit in two ways: living a Christ-like life and making other disciples.
Growing as a disciple isn’t just an inward, private endeavor. We should increasingly take on the character of Christ. But, we’ve also got to learn to do what Jesus did, make disciples.
If you’re interested in growing in your ability to make disciples, I’d like to help. I recently finished an eBook called 5 Discipleship Principles I Live by (Hint: Anyone Can Do These). It’s free! Just fill out the form at the bottom of this page and I’ll send you a link.
Which part of the Barna report on discipleship jumps out the most to you? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below to get the conversation started.