Ever find yourself quoting scripture out of context? I do. And, I find it can make a crucial difference in my disciples.
For instance I’m always talking, “…go and make disciples of all the nations. But I often forget the words, “Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Those two statements ought to color the process of making disciples in a new church.
The first statement is about obedience to commands, which seems a little odd since Jesus doesn’t seem to be into commands. His constant battles with the Pharisees underscore relationships over commandments.
But closer examination does uncover commands about personal integrity, servant leadership and those pesky instructions he gave his disciples on short-term missions. They were to, “Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!”
We’re pretty good about announcing the kingdom. But the miracle stuff is usually way off the radar of people launching churches and making disciples. Yet, it is right there in plain view. Jesus expects us to teach our disciples to do ministry—real ministry, the kind that can make us uncomfortable.
And it is that discomfort that brings the other statement to the fore. He promised to be with his disciples (including us) to the end of the age.
He is with me as I consciously move from intellectual disciplemaking to the more practical stuff that includes healing, etc. I often have to timidly force myself to pray instead of offer counsel. And I am learning the importance of teaching my disciples, especially by example, to do the same.
A new church that plugs in to the power of God is bound to shape lives better than one preaching a philosophy of religion.