[Jesus said] Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19
Yesterday during a workshop focusing on culture change in the church, this particular verse in Matthew’s gospel got a lot of air time. Specifically we talked about the command from our Lord to make disciples. Many in main line denominations have heard the call to make disciples, but sometimes I wonder if we indeed know how? When is the last time your church offered a “Making Disciples” class? If one were to take seriously Jesus’ call to make disciples, wouldn’t such a person need to first and foremost be a disciple of Jesus before taking on the task?
This is an area where I think church leaders, especially pastors should focus a little more effort (present company included). We need to get back to some basics of faith formation and Christian education. All too often the mantra in our main line churches seems to be “Don’t change a thing, just work harder.” This thinking totally misses the cultural shift happening all around us. Technology also plays a hand in changing the culture in which our church members live, especially those who are at the younger end of the spectrum.
So how do we become better at making disciples? Jesus says teach. Teach people to obey everything he commanded. Teach them to love God above all else. Teach them to love their neighbor as themselves. Teach them that even as we are all sinners, God loved the world so much that he sent his only Son to take the sin of the world to the cross, offering his life as the atoning sacrifice.
Sound simple? Well, it might be, but it sometimes isn’t. In order to teach, we must first learn. We must continue to study the Holy Scriptures, the promises of God from long ago and the example Jesus set for us in his life. We must learn more of the struggles of the early Church, how they faced persecution and persevered in their faith. We must also learn how to share fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ, to lift one another up in times of trouble, and to celebrate the good things of God. And in those hard times when it seems too difficult, we need to remember Jesus’ parting words as recorded in Matthew; “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”