The Christian life is simple. It’s hard, but not complex. Christians follow Jesus.
Our single responsibility includes watching and learning from Jesus, loving and worshipping Him, then submitting and obeying everything He’s commanded. We follow Jesus. In other words, we are His disciples.
Too often, however, Jesus is not the center of Christian life but a tangent. We confuse weekly, religious routine for supernatural relationship. We schedule meetings instead of living life like Christ. We read books, take classes, create programs, organize or attend conferences, and publish podcasts rather than wearing Jesus’ yoke and learning from Him. Ironically, many good things intended to help us follow Christ more closely can potentially distract us from Him.
And when we miss the heart of the Christian life we inevitably mistake the simplicity of Christ’s commission, namely, to proclaim His gospel. We follow our Lord and represent Him to the world. We work on His behalf, under His authority, and for the sake of His kingdom. And what has He charged us to do? Follow Him and help others follow Him. In other words, we are to make disciples.
How could we Christians muddle our mission so miserably? For all her progress, how did the church get so busy that she forgot her most important work? Though exhausting, the assignment is clear: make disciples.
To disciple means to guide or direct in someone to be a personal follower, student, or learner. A disciple not only studies from his master, he imitates him. Making a disciple involves (at the very least) teaching, modeling, steering, leading, escorting, and guiding. It requires time, energy, and commitment. Group meetings (of the entire flock or in smaller segments) play a part, but disciple-making doesn’t happen without personal, [house to house], one-on-one attention.
In barest form making disciples means following Jesus by helping others follow Jesus. So where do we start and where do we go? Enter the Biblical Discipleship Bull’s-eye.
This is not new. But we dare not take our familiarity–with the gospel or the Great Commission–for granted. Nor is it a program. (Note: I am so not against scheduled services and small groups. I love books and retreats. I think we’re crazy not to maximize the internet and iPods for ministry. But let’s not get so involved admiring the china pattern that we forget the point of the plate is to carry the food. ) But this paradigm should shape every Christian’s approach to relationships, use of spiritual giftedness, and strategy for shepherding/making disciples. For my part I am eager to stir up disciples with a fresh reminder of Jesus’ long-established model of ministry.
Everyone (where by “everyone” I mean everyone, believers and unbelievers) fits somewhere on this target. In the next post we’ll consider the first of Three Target Levels of Discipleship so that we ourselves can follow Jesus more closely and help others do the same.