In his final words on earth, Jesus gave his followers a mission:
“Go and make disciples of all nations.” Matthew 28:18-20
As we follow Christ, we all have a part in that same mission. How are we doing at making disciples?
Pastor Dhati Lewis says today’s believers need to open up our way of thinking about how church works, and become more active in the process.
“Most of our environments we create in the church context have one active participant and a bunch of passive listeners. On Sunday services, we have one person — a worship leader, or a pastor who’s preaching — and then you have a bunch of people who are listening.”
“When we want to reach our neighborhood, we start Bible studies where we’re still promoting one person being active, and a bunch of passive people. If we want to change the culture, we have to change the way we go about doing things in it, and really turn people into active participants.”
Lewis says the two elements of disciple-making are shown in Jesus’ call to Peter and Andrew.
“Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19
“In that, you hear both an invitation into relationship, but also He’s challenging them to change, and that change was to engage in the work of God. In the same way Christ called His people. We have to call people to service, to laboring, call people to the harvest. That’s what Jesus was saying: “The harvest is plentiful, but it’s the labors that are few.” (Matthew 9:37)
“I think the problem is that we have reduced our Christianity to conferences, church services, and concerts. We just really have to start to look at how does our faith walk express itself outside of these environments?”
You don’t need an advanced theological degree to make disciples–every believer can help demonstrate the way following Jesus looks in our daily lives. It’s not simply another appointment or list of tasks: discipleship is making a commitment to live a life of faith together.
“Often we have reduced discipleship to once-a-week meetings at Starbucks where I’m going to ask you about your life. The essentials of disciple-making have a life-on-life component: we’re inviting people into relationships and challenging them to change. Those are the basic mechanics that any of us as disciple-makers can do.
Lewis reminds us that it’s important to keep the two components of discipleship in balance.
“We just have to understand that, in that call to His disciples, Jesus gives an invitation to relationship and this relationship is going to challenge you to change. A lot of times, we fall on one or the other side: we’re just all invitation–all relational without challenge–or all challenge without invitation to a relationship. So we have to balance that tension between the two.”
Dhati Lewis is the Lead Pastor of Blueprint Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and serves as the BLVD Experience Team Director with the Send Network Team at the North American Mission Board. He is passionate about disciple-making in the local church and is committed to raising up indigenous urban practitioners to encourage, equip, and empower them to make disciples in the city. He’s the author of Among Wolves: Disciple-Making in the City.Are we making disciples?