God is on a mission. He is at work redeeming the world. The story begins with God’s perfect creation, but marred by human sinfulness, he begins his redemptive process. But he invites us to join him on his mission. Jesus put it this way, “Go, and make disciples.” To be a follower of Jesus is to be missional. But disciplemaking sounds scary. ‘Ordinary’ Christians sometimes leave it to the experts. It’s just too hard. I understand this, but spiritual elitism isn’t at the heart of Jesus. He wants every follower to be a disciple maker. I asked some missional leaders for their top piece of advice for helping ‘ordinary’ Christians embrace God’s mission of making disciples. Here’s what they said…
What is the most important piece of advice you would give to encourage people to join God’s mission of making disciples?
It seems to me that discipleship–and the associated aspect of disciple-making–is one of the critical factors in the vitality, health, and impact of any movement. If we fail in the area of disciple-making, we will fail everywhere else. The most important reason why it is necessary is because it is the way in which Jesus gets into His people. This is because discipleship is fundamentally a Jesus focussed affair—through it we become more like Him (imitation Christ), and he gets to live His life in and through His people (union/abiding with Christ). Discipleship can be understood as doing the same kinds of things that Jesus did, for the same kinds of reasons that He did them. It is because of this that both the character and the content of Christianity is passed on through discipleship.
Alan Hirsch, author of numerous books on leadership and movements, a leader in the global missional movement (www.alanhirsch.org)
We have to ask ourselves: are we producing the kind of disciples Jesus made? Jesus was the greatest leader that ever lived! Through his investment, he developed missional leaders that looked just like him in many ways. I am absolutely fascinated with the ways He made disciples…the very environment he created whereby he shaped their character, stretched their capacity, and grew in them the skills they needed to live a missional life. I’m convinced if we want to see a multiplying movement of discipleship again like we saw in the early church, we must learn the ways of Jesus and imitate his leadership.
Gina Mueller is the director for 3dm STAND where she trains and equips women nationally in discipleship and mission in everyday life. She has trained leaders across all denominations and from churches of all sizes and is currently leading a missional community to welcome refugees to her city.
Discipleship is fundamentally an ecclesial task – it takes a church to make disciples! People learn what it means to know and follow Jesus by being part of a community of people seeking to do this together through worship, sacrificial fellowship, and service to the world. Discipling others is not the work of a religious elite. It takes place as we open our lives, homes, and hearts to others in a sincere attempt to know and be known, seeking God in prayer, in Scripture, and in the everyday spaces of our lives.
JR Rozko is a co-director at Missio Alliance where he seeks to help develop missional awareness and intentions among leaders of the Western Church. JR’s work involves creating ways that help church leaders partner in the mission of God.
The church is crucial to God’s mission in the world. God calls his church to be a distinct people, with a distinct ethic, a distinct story, a distinct peace, a distinct community, a distinct diversity, and a distinct witness. The church is a distinct gathered and sent people. We join with God in his mission of making disciples as one body, one church, one people called to witness to him. As we, together, embrace our distinct identity, narrative, hermeneutic, society, witness, community, politic, ethic, peacemaking, and practices, we join together in God’s mission of making disciples.
This is a striking and revolutionary call. And it reflects the vision of Jesus Christ. The church is a distinctive society and polity. The church has a distinct identity and calling in the world. Its social ethics and politics are Christological. They must embody the earth-shattering and history-defining life and message of Jesus Christ. The church is a distinctive and tangible society. It embodies its social ethic and politic in its distinguishing discipleship practices. These include hospitality, discipleship, forgiveness, discipline, worship, eating together, prayer, generosity, simplicity, diversity, discernment, peacemaking, care for the stranger and the poor, and more.
These political and ethical practices are the opposite of retreat from the world (escapism), or judgment of the world (moralism), or conformity to and enmeshment with the world (Constantinianism), or social action defined by the values of the world (activism). Instead, the church embraces its unique identity as the people of the risen Lord. It cultivates the kinds of discipleship practices mentioned above, and it does that as it joins with God in mission. In doing so, the church shows the world a revolutionary politic and ethic. It shows the world the world in its redeemed state. In this way, it witnesses to Jesus Christ. In this way, we join together, as one, in God’s mission of making disciples.
Graham Hill is the Provost at Morling College and the Director of The Global Church Project. He is passionate about developing Christian leaders particularly in the area mission, church re-vitalization, cultural intelligence and Christianity throughout the World. Graham has written 4 books including GlobalChurch: Reshaping our Conversations, Renewing our Mission, Revitalizing our Churches.
This is the mission statement that Bishop Frank Retief in Cape Town gave me 20 years ago. It’s blunt, but it’s clear about what’s at stake in the mission of the church – so here it is: “People without Christ go to hell.”
Having come from a non-Christian family, I so appreciate the fact that I was told the gospel and saved from hell. And the fact that many of my family are still not Christian and rightly destined to pay for their sins themselves in hell, makes me long to tell others of the saving death of Jesus. In his love, he saves us from hell, through the cross, for heaven. There are only two reasons we, therefore, won’t evangelise. One is we don’t believe it and the second is we don’t love people.
Rico Tice is the Senior Minister (Evangelism) at All Souls Church, Langham Place. He co-created the Christianity Explored Courses and regular evangelistic speaker at events around the world. Rico has also authored several books the latest titled Capturing God.
Is there anything you would add? Leave it in a comment below.