by Ron Leonard, Missions Pastor
Put simply, the mission of every Christ-follower is to glorify God by making more Christ-followers (what we call "disciples"). These were the marching orders Christ gave His people just before ascending into heaven in Matthew 28:18-20, and it's what we do today as the church.
As you think through what being a disciple and making disciples means in your life, here are five "e" phrases to help:
1.) Jesus encountered people.
Jesus came into the world and was called “Immanuel” – which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). God initiated our encounter with the living Lord Savior. He came to live among His people. He was not distant and detached but present and personal. He encountered people where they were: fishing on the seashore, in the marketplace, in the home, along the road, etc.
We must do the same. As we encounter people, we build relationships. We have circles of family, friends, school and work associates, acquaintances, etc. Sometimes just being available to others leads to a meaningful encounter.
2.) Jesus enlisted followers.
Christ’s purpose was central and He sought a response from those He called to come and follow. They followed not only for the sake of following, but He would send them out with a purpose. We are not only to encounter and establish relationships with people but we are to enlist people to follow Christ.
Christ commissioned His disciples to “Go make disciples” (Matthew 28:19-20). Romans 10:9-10, 13 demonstrates the result of believing and confessing “Jesus is Lord” for “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). When we enlist others to follow Christ, it involves their response.
3.) Jesus equipped people to accomplish the task.
Jesus spent extensive time with His disciples. He taught them about prayer (Luke 11), how to love one another (John 13), what it meant to remain in Him (John 15), and more. Jesus did not send His followers into the world unprepared (Matthew 24). Rather, they were equipped for the mission.
We should equip followers of Christ for the task of making disciples. When we build relationships and enlist people for Christ’s mission, we should invest time in their development. Being effectively equipped will enable the Christ-follower to be fruitful. Being equipped involves both personal preparation and purposeful training.
4.) The Christ-follower is to engage in action.
Faith must be accompanied by action. As clearly stated in James, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17). It is not enough to claim the name of Christ and do nothing else! Our call as His followers is to be faithful and obedient to His commands. We must engage in the mission and take the Gospel of Jesus “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8b).
5.) Jesus did not leave His followers without encouragement.
He promised His disciples that He would be “with them always, even to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Jesus also told them, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16-17a).
In the same way, we should not abandon those we have encountered, enlisted, equipped, and engaged in Christ’s mission. Rather, we should provide encouragement along the way. As we encourage followers of Christ, we should ask challenging questions and exhibit expectations for continued growth and faithfulness.
Encounter… Enlist… Equip… Engage… Encourage… five disciple “E"s.