Do you ever think about the word, “discipleship”? Growing up in this church, I’ve heard this word countless times in sermons, Sunday School lessons and even in general conversations. It’s even one of the seven things that we are devoted to here at TBC Cayce; but because we see it used so often, there’s a risk of us using it simply as a buzz-word, or as a generic phrase to explain why we have Sunday School and Grow classes. As the Discipleship Pastor here, I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking through what discipleship really is, and how God uses it to shape and mature His creation to be more like Him. I’ve been studying Scripture, and learning from other pastors and authors, and wanted to share a few things that God has been showing me about discipleship.
Discipleship is a clear command that Jesus has given to us. In Matthew’s Gospel account, his last recorded words from Jesus say this,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
Many of you know this passage as The Great Commission. Here Jesus explicitly tells His disciples to go and make new disciples, and to teach them the very things that Jesus Himself has taught to them. They had followed Jesus for three years, and it wasn’t simply enough for them to go about living like they had been. They had been identified as followers long enough, and it was now time for them to step out and become leaders, to teach and train others to follow Christ. This same command applies to us today. Many of us have grown up in the church, and been followers of Christ for many years, but have never reached the point where we are mature enough to step out and help other people around us become more like Christ. Discipleship involves two main components: following and leading. We are called to grow and mature in our relationship with Christ, but also to help others do the same. If we are growing personally in our relationship with Christ, but aren’t intentionally helping others to grow closer to Christ, then we aren’t being fully devoted followers. We’re only halfway fulfilling what Jesus commands us to do.
One of the things that the Lord has been teaching me lately is what it looks like to be a fully devoted follower of Him. This involves focusing on the often-neglected side of discipleship: helping others to follow Him. I’ve been challenged to not only look at how I can intentionally disciple others around me, such as friends and family members, but also to think through how we as a church body are intentionally shaping and molding the next generation. I’d encourage you also to think through this, so that together as a church body we can use the relationships and places that God has put us in to expand and grow His kingdom, helping others to become fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.