by Ron Leonard, Missions Pastor
The Great Commission from Jesus to His followers was, and is, "Go make disciples..." (see Matthew 28:16-20). But how do we make disciples a couple of thousand years later from when Jesus spoke these words, and halfway around the globe?
Here are a few observations on some mistakes we make and how to avoid them. Hopefully, this will help us all be faithful to the commission given by Christ.
1.) Failing to include an expectation for application, assessment, and accountability in making disciples.
Becoming a follower of Christ is not merely for the benefit of "being" but also entails "doing." Applied disciple-making includes assessing our effectiveness and holding one another accountable. We need to be intentional in making disciples with clear expectations.
2.) Lacking a Biblical foundation in making disciples.
Our goal should never be to make followers of anyone or anything above the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible should be the foundational resource for making disciples. Any studies or curriculum, whether mass produced or individually developed, should be based on Scripture.
3.) Failing to consider our context, causing ineffective communication.
Methods that worked years ago or in other cultural settings may not translate into effective disciple making in our current context. We must clearly communicate a disciple-making strategy that is suitable for a specific context. Leading people to follow Jesus and make disciples today (and tomorrow) may not look the same as it did 2,000, 200, or even 20 years ago!
4.) Failing to develop leaders in making disciples.
Jesus called, trained, and sent the Disciples. Paul encouraged Timothy as a young leader in the faith. We are short-sighted when we fail to develop leaders. We must engage and train committed leaders in an intentional process for making disciples.
5.) Believing we can make disciples without engaging in one another's life.
Our goal cannot merely be to meet together or gather a group. Rather, we should be involved in the life of others. Relationships are vital, and we should be investing in one another to effectively grow faithful followers of Christ who bear fruit.
6.) Failing to recognize the importance of finding the right space for making disciples.
In the book, Discipleship that Fits: The Five Kinds of Relationships God Uses to Help Us Grow, the authors identify five distinct contexts as public, social, personal, transparent, and divine. The way we use space in disciple-making, whether in the auditorium, classroom, home, office, coffee shop, etc., impacts how we make disciples.
7.) Failing to seek growth by multiplication.
Our approach and expectation must be to multiply followers of Jesus; making disciples who make disciples. We should never be satisfied with settling for status quo when it comes to making disciples.
This short list of mistakes is certainly not comprehensive, but I hope it is helpful and thought-stirring as we all "go and make disciples..." May we learn from our mistakes and may we always pray, give, go, and send disciples who will make disciples!