I was never familiar with what discipleship really meant until my husband, and I moved to North Idaho in 2014. We had attended a lovely Baptist Church outside in our small community for ten years. There was a ministry in the church that served as the “Welcome New Guests.” They would ask people if they would like to know more about the Bible and Jesus Christ. As a new Christian, I wanted to know everything I could. A few weeks later, I was assigned to a beautiful woman named Ruth who was to Disciple me. It was an excellent experience, and throughout nine months, I grew more deeply in my faith and understanding of Jesus and the Bible.
Our church in Idaho is all about making Disciples. I honestly wasn’t sure what that meant, or how to become one, but I was curious.
To begin with, The church offered classes if you were interested in becoming a member. Once a member, you are encouraged to take bible study classes and volunteer in a ministry. They often say, “Don’t just GO to church, BE the church. And so I did, I jumped in with both feet. I volunteered a couple days a week with the Benevolence Ministry, the Job Club Ministry, Women’s Ministry, and Children’s Ministry. What I loved about this church that I had never witnessed at any other church were the numerous ministries, support groups, homegroups, children’s activities, Bible study groups, kids camp, fundraisers, and missionary training and travel. The church is open seven days a week, and there is always something happening. The campus is also home to a private Christian School, grades K-12. Recently added, a new sports facility for not just our member’s children, but for our entire community, other churches and public schools to use. No child has ever been turned away from playing a sport because they, “Didn’t make the cut.” This is one of the many ways our church makes disciples who make disciples.
Jesus’ purpose for coming down to earth was not just to get people to believe so they could go to heaven. Even Satan believed in Jesus. Jesus wanted to make people into holy people. His goal was to spread the gospel to other nations. When Jesus began his ministry here on earth, his purpose was to make disciples that would go out and make disciples. “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” ~Matt 4:19. Our church uses this verse to define discipleship. As a Christian, your call is to follow Jesus and commit to His mission (making disciples). This challenges people to step out of their comfort zone because many Christians have never been discipled. Many Christians find a church they like, attend once in a while (definitely on Christmas and Easter), tithe occasionally, and thumb through the bible (if they own one) during a service. They have no time to volunteer or attend Bible classes to help them grow in the word, but they do believe that Jesus was the Son of God and was reserected from the dead. Unfortunately, these types of Christians tend to look a lot like the rest of the secular world.
While the bible says that we are saved by grace and not by good works, Jesus does tell us that we are to share the word with others. This does not mean the goal is to boost the membership of the church by making converts. As a disciple, it means to invest in them, teach them to love God through relationship and obedience and encourage them to grow in Christ so they can go on to be disciple-makers. But first, we must start with ourselves. Is your church a disciple-making church? At our church, there are classes we are encouraged to attend, books that our pastor has written we can purchase or borrow from our church, curriculum you can find online as well as a Christian bookstore. Not all churches are disciple-makers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do what Jesus has called all of His followers to do. Penn Jillette, a famous magician, comedian, TV personality and a host of other titles is also known as a hardcore atheist. In 2009, Jillette praised a Christian businessman for giving him a Bible and proclaiming that salvation comes only through faith in Jesus Christ. Jillette did not accept the man’s invitation to become a Christian, but his assessment of believers quoted him as saying, “I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. If you believe in heaven and hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, but you feel it’s not really worth telling them because it’s socially awkward, how much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”