What Do We Mean by “Disciple-Making?”
Grace Polaris has articulated our mission as “honoring God by multiplying devoted followers of Jesus through worship, community, training, and witness.” The source of this mission is Matthew 28:16–20, in which Jesus tells His followers to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” To us, “multiplying devoted followers of Jesus” and “making disciples of all nations” are the same thing. We at Grace believe that all we do should be oriented toward this calling.
Questions arise among well-intentioned and even mature believers about what disciple-making looks like. For the next several weeks we will be sharing a disciple-making principle each week in order to drill down on this central issue.
First, disciple-making involves the sharing of life. Jesus had many followers (or disciples), but His most prominent were a group of 12 individuals into whose lives Jesus invested heavily. Even among the 12, Jesus was particularly close to Peter, James, and John. Rather than being attenders of a class, those who were Jesus’ disciples hung out with Him and experienced His teaching in the context of His life. This sharing of life was a component of Paul’s ministry as well: “We were ready to share with you not only the Gospel of God but also our own selves” (1 Thessalonians 2:8).
With whom do you share life? This begins with your family, if you are married, and it certainly includes your church family, whatever your status. Hopefully it includes some lost people as well. Sharing life requires association with people, but it is more than that. Those who share life aren’t just coworkers passing in the rows of a cube farm. They don’t relate to one another only for functional purposes—that is, their relationship is not defined by what they get from one another.
It’s strange to say, but sharing life with people is extremely difficult in modern North America for many reasons, such as our over-commitment and hypermobility. If you find yourself struggling to share life with others, a simple strategy is to reclaim mealtimes for connecting with people. Invite those in your office to grab lunch in the cafeteria. Invite another family to your home for dinner. Free yourself during these times from feeling like you have to accomplish something “productive.” Just hang out and be ready to respond as the Holy Spirit directs you.
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Each Thursday we send out our Training Resources Newsletter, which shares a new ministry tool and an encouraging story about God’s Spirit preparing someone for service.