“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
In previous posts, we looked at this passage of Scripture and answered the question, “What?” What is our purpose as a church? What is the mission that our Lord has left us to perform?
In this post and the next few we will look at the same passage and ask the question, “How?” How does our Lord want us to make disciples? My intention is to slow down and find out “how” in terms of going and teaching.
We have a problem, and while you and I may not be the originators of the problem, we are the ongoing perpetrators of the problem. What I mean is that while our Lord has not been vague, ambiguous, or obtuse about what our mission is, we have allowed mission creep to come into our lives as a church and to crowd out, eclipse, and distort the beauty of our mission and the manner in which must be carried out.
The one who said to us, “All authority has been given to me,” is the same one who said, “This is what I want you to do. I want you to make disciples.” And even though the Lord could, by virtue of his authority, simply tell us what to do, he has also supplied us with everything we need to do what he’s commanded. “Lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Our mission and our method are framed by the bookends of “I’m the one whose authority resides over you” and “I’m the one whose presence enables you.”
We’re to make disciples, and that involves going, baptizing, and teaching. Those three terms function to convey what I suggest is a two-phase process of discipleship. The first phase is reflected in the term “going,” and the second phase is reflected in the term “teaching to the point of obedience.”
Phase 1 is the phase of reaching out to people. “Going” means reaching out to people calling them to follow Christ in light of the gospel, with the intent of seeing those to whom we are reaching out incorporate themselves with a local body of believers.
Phase 2 is the phase of remaining with people. “Teaching” means remaining with followers of Christ to remain with people with a sustained call to follow Christ in light of the gospel with the intent of seeing them continue in a local body of believers.
How do we do we make disciples? We’re to reach out to people and we’re to remain with people. But how do I know if I should reach out to someone or remain with them? We can explore that in our next post.