A person's last words are usually pretty important. Typically these words give some sort of closure, bring peace, bestow blessings, give life or empower those who are privileged enough to have been the recipients of these words. We have the privilege of being the recipients of such words. Matthew 28:18-20 records, what we now recognize as the "Great Commission," Jesus' final words to us, The Church,
"Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (emphasis added)
He could have told us anything..."Remember that I love you and I'm proud of you!" "Make sure you take care of my mom!" "Don't forget to turn the oven off!" ANYTHING, but He used this opportunity to share with us what was the most important thing for us to know..."Make disciples"
So why don't we do this? Sometime in the late 1980's-early 1990's there was a shift in the church and the "Seeker Sensitive Church" was born. It when at this point that evangelism largely became the primary focus of the church. Before I continue, I should note that I am pro-evangelism. It is absolutely necessary and biblical. And our history is filled with amazing evangelists such as George Whitefield and Billy Graham. However, this shift towards evangelism has overshadowed the Great Commission. At some point, the church became more focused on seating capacity rather than sending capacity. Our focused shifted from making disciples to building the church. Last I checked, it's not our job to build the church, that's Christ's job. Take note, "Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means 'rock'), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it." Matthew 16:18 Did you see that?! "I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH" So let's set the record straight: Our job=Make Disciples | God's job = Build the Church.
The reality is that if true discipleship is taking place, the Church will grow, because we will be carrying out God's mission for us, The Church. Did you catch that? God's mission for us. You see God is a missionary God. He is Sender, Sent and Sending. God the Father sent Jesus, God the Son. Together, God the Father and God the Son sent God the Holy Spirit. And finally God, the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit sent us, The Church. God sent us on a mission: Make disciples. Jurgen Moltmann says it this way, "It's not that the church has a mission, it's that the mission has a church." So rather than telling God what our mission is and asking Him to bless it, we ought to be asking God what His mission is and ask how we can join in with Him.
So are you ready to see what the power of discipleship looks like? Let's compare two people. The first person, an evangelist the second is you, a disciple maker. Let's say that the evangelist gets one person saved a day, and he does this every day; he doesn't go home until at least one person is saved a day. On the other hand, you, the disciple maker, decide to intentionally disciple two people for one year, at the end of that year you commission your two disciples to go and do the same thing with two new individuals and so on.
After year one:
Evangelist: 365 new believers You: 2 disciples
I know, not that impressive...
After year two:
Evangelist: 730 new believers You: 4 disciples
Still, not that impressive...
After year three:
Evangelist: 1095 new believers You: 8 disciples
Let's skip ahead....
After year ten:
Evangelist: 3650 new believers You: 1024 disciples
After year twelve:
Evangelist: 4380 new believers You: 4096 disciples
ARE YOU READY?
After year sixteen:
Evangelist: 5840 new believers You: 65,536 disciples!!!
Discipleship might not be as appealing as evangelism...but it sure is more effective. So who do you have in your life that you can intentionally disciple? Find one person, who you can teach everything you know about Jesus. Don't over complicate it - go get coffee and talk about Jesus, on purpose. Teach them what you know about Him. I promise, not only will they grow, but you will grow too. There is nothing better than being on mission with Jesus and being a part of His Kingdom work! So go and change the world - make disciples!