“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”
Do we know what this is? This is one of the final statements Jesus made to His followers before His ascension back to the Father. We call this statement the Great Commission? But really what it is our calling card – our purpose statement – our elevator pitch!
I believed the church exists to introduce people to Christ, to help them experience an authentic growing relationship with Him so that they might go out in His name and repeat the process (making disciples).
In describing this text, most people would say this teaching is the purpose of the church’s existence. And certainly, I would fall into this camp. I would say that to make a disciple begins with connecting someone to Christ through salvation and then connecting them to His church for ministry care and concern.
Now depending on who you ask, you might find a wide variety of interpretations regarding what it means to “make disciples.” Many churches and pastors today believe this passage to be a command to evangelize the world. Yet while there’s certainly an evangelistic bent to Christ’s command, I believe His instructions go far beyond sharing the gospel. Let us look at this text in three ways:
I. WHAT IS A DISCIPLE?
Making disciples speaks to the idea of a learning believer – someone who is in the process of fully developing in his/her faith with love for God.
As I have been speaking about discipleship the last weeks, a disciple can be defined this way:
He/She is available to God
He/She has affection for God
He/She submits to the authority of God
He/She lives for the agenda of God
He/She waits on the assurance of God
And part of the essential disciplines to become a disciple are:
The ability to hear and distinguish God’s voice
The ability to handle God’s word
The ability to honor God’s covenant truths
A readiness to herald God’s truth, to help others at the point of their need and to serve them to God
It’s the difference between a one-time profession of faith (Member) and a lifetime of spiritual growth and increasing godliness (Disciple)
It is also the difference between someone who seeks a God relationship and someone who settles for a good religion. We are called to be developed as disciples at Cornerstone.
II. WHAT IS DISCIPLE-MAKING?
Before we can answer this question there’s a fundamental truth we all must absorb – disciples are made as one maturing disciple takes spiritual responsibility for another soul to influence them to Christ. Everything else supports the disciple-making process – the pulpit, small groups, etc.
Sadly though, it appears as if we’ve been tempted to do everything except the one thing Jesus called us to do. Did you know that Jesus never told us to…
Start Sunday School and Form classes
Create Programs and Construct Buildings
Build Colleges/Seminaries and Organize Conventions
Hold Conferences and Sponsor Events
All that is wonderful and needed. But the mission of the Christian and God’s Church is to pour the Jesus that has been pour into us into another until they are capable of doing the same for another.
For Jesus, making disciples meant repeating the process He performed with the 12 and they with others. Meaning – to be a disciple of Jesus is to make a disciple for Jesus.
Dawson Trotman in “Born to Reproduce” asked: “Men, where is your man? Women, where is your woman? Where is the one whom you led to Christ and who is now going on with them? How many persons do you know by name today who were won to Christ by you and are now living for Him? How is the life of Christ in you being multiplied through you in the world?” Those are the questions we all need to answer here at Cornerstone.
III. HOW ARE GOING TO MAKE DISCIPLES?
Cornerstone, we are not going to be consumer-driven for the best product, but culturally relevant and biblically centered. We are not going to be competitor-oriented, looking to compare with the churches down the street. We are going to be community-passionate about advancing a Kingdom one person at a time.
We are going to invert our ministry model and return to a biblical model (Cornerstone Discipleship Pathway) placing a premium on the One on One and then affording the small groups and corporate worship encounters to support the disciple-making process.
We are going to be more intentional with guests and new members, to begin with, clarity about who we are and why we do what we do as a church through our Cornerstone Connection Center, minister by Cornerstone Hospitality Team.
We are going to re-focus our small groups into churches within the church, focused on our community-at-large where ministry and connection are prioritized through community and missional service.
We are going to strive to help others learn to hear God’s voice, handle Scripture, and honor covenant so that they will herald His truth and help others to Christ. May God help us to become disciples and make disciples. Amen!
Pastor John Punni