by Bob Gerow
The call to action is clear: "Jesus spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age'" (Matt. 28:18-20 nasb).
You don't have to travel very far to take the first step.
Making disciples is about PRAYER
Jesus called for prayer as the first step to take in the face of the tremendous spiritual needs He and the disciples faced.
"Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then Jesus said to His disciples, The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest'" (Matt 9:36-38).
You are a true missionary when you pray to discover God's plans for your life, when you pray regularly and fervently for others who serve God, and when you pray for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Making disciples is about RELATIONSHIP
The first relationship is your relationship with God. It is difficult (if not impossible) to be an effective disciple-maker if we are not ourselves disciples-in-the-making. To be an effective disciple-maker, you also need to get to know your neighbor, your world, and the history of the Christian movement. Your "connection" to others is the context in which new disciples are introduced to life in Christ.
Relationship building can begin when you read the biographies and works of missionary statesmen and trailblazers, when you befriend someone from another culture, or host an international student, or develop a friendship or dialogue with a current or retired foreign missionary.
Making disciples is about STEWARDSHIP
What has God put within your reach or at your disposal? It is all HIS. Whether you are sharing a car, opening a home, giving financially, or investing time, generously sharing the resources within your reach is a natural expression of obedience to God's call.
You can begin by supporting a foreign missionary financially and through prayer, or by supporting the ministry of a national worker, or sponsorship of a child being served by a Christian organization, or involvement and support of your denomination or church missions program or missionaries.
Making disciples is about GOING.
But "going" requires only that you be about the work Christ gave you, not necessarily about traveling half way around the world. Christ told us, "As you go, make disciples."
You can become part of the worldwide Christian movement today by serving on your church's missions committee, participating in cultural fairs and exchanges, participating in a short-term ministry trip.
Making disciples is about TODAY
In the previous paragraph I quoted Christ as commanding, "As you go, make disciples." That particular wording may be foreign to you. Let me explain. In Matthew 28:18-20 "go" (pŏrĕuŏmai) and "make disciples" (mathĕtĕuō) are both commanded. That we will go is assumed. Making disciples is what we are to be doing along the way.
The substance of what it means to "make disciples" is defined by "baptizing and teaching them to observe all that I commanded."
The necessity of our "going" is by the authority of Christ who commands us to go. Our "going" is empowered by the promise of Christ's presence until the end of our days. And "making disciples" will be what our "going" is all about: "In your going / As you go make disciples."
Making disciples is about HOW WE LIVE
The contexts in which each of us lives and works are varied. The people among whom we live and serve are unique. The methods we employ will differ. But, so long as we are faithful to God's Word and calling we are partners in His cause.
Discipleship should define our lifestyle. It is how we are supposed to live.
Becoming a disciple is a process, not an event. Stay at it. This is going to take time.
The "content" of our discipleship is Life IN Christ. You are to be growing in it. Those in your care are to be instructed in His ways.
And discipleship is about continuously living in Jesus' company. You are not alone. You are not "on your own." You can have no better, stronger, or more compassionate company than the presence of Christ.
Bob Gerow is development administrator for AMG International