A Note from Pastor David
I met with the Staff-Parish Relations Committee of our church in the spring of 2011. I was being introduced to them as the candidate for their new pastor. Their task and mine was to discern whether the proposed match would be a right one.
Some of the questions that folks from the Staff-Parish Relations Committee asked me that night involved matters of church health and vitality. Anyone who has a heart for their church, after all, wants to see it strong and prospering. Likewise, anyone who has a heart for their community or their world wants to see the church fulfilling its whole mission. And anyone who has a heart for the Lord wants to see the church being faithful to His high calling.
But how do we guarantee all of that? How to make all of that happen?
I shared with the committee that night what I believe is a fairly simple recipe. Just make disciples. For if you make disciples, then disciples will do what disciples do.
If the church is full of disciples, you see – full of people who are living with Jesus, people who are living like Jesus, and people who are living for Jesus – then everything else will follow. A church that is full of disciples will be all that it ought to be. And a church that is full of disciples will do all that it is called to do.
And so my goal and my purpose is to make disciples. Do you want to be one? Do you want to make others?
From the day in Eden when God said, “It is not good for man to be alone,” He has been putting us together in relationship. Relationship is not always easy, of course, but it is His will for us. And it is an essential part of how He makes us all that He wants us to be.
So it is that we do not become disciples on our own. It happens in relationship. It happens in a group.
If you want to be a disciple, therefore, you need to be part of a group. That’s more than having your name on a roll; it’s a commitment and a shared experience. And the group itself must understand that this is what they are about: following Jesus together.
A Long Process
The idea of fast-track discipleship seems to me a little like fast-track gestation. Some things cannot be fast and easy. Some things simply take time to develop. That appears to be God’s design in significant areas of life. And so it is with discipleship.
Jesus did not lead Peter and company through a quick, six-week course. It was not fast and easy. No, they followed Him, lived with Him, watched Him and learned from Him for apparently three years. It was only then, after He had really made them into disciples, that He turned them loose in the world to “go and make disciples” themselves.
I am encouraging us to focus on becoming disciples, but I won’t be purchasing the “fast track” resource to help us do it. For while we are naturally attracted to that which is fast and easy, it’s hard to square “take up your cross” with convenience.
Whenever someone makes a tremendous impact or achieves some great accomplishment, it’s natural to wonder how they did it. D. Michael Henderson has made such a study of John Wesley. He notes that Wesley “created an instructional system which brought about a national spiritual renewal in 18th century England” and that “his techniques for nurturing and training Christian disciples not only brought about personal transformation to tens of thousands of individual believers, but a moral reformation to the nation as well.” And so Henderson set out to answer the question: “How did John Wesley do that?”
“The heart of this revolutionary system,” Henderson writes, “was a cell group of six to eight people which Wesley named ‘the class meeting.’ …The class meeting proved to be such an effective tool for radical personal change that it can be acknowledged as the pivotal element of the Methodist movement, the vehicle of change, the medium which enabled the message to be internalized.”
“The primary value in studying the class meeting today,” Henderson concludes, "is to gain insights and methods for the Church’s central task: making Christian disciples.”
Our Next Step
We want to be disciples and to make disciples. That is our calling. And in order to do it, we will return to our roots – both what we see Jesus doing with the disciples in the Gospels and what we read that John Wesley did with the early Methodists in England. We will form ourselves into small groups of people who intend to follow Jesus together.
You are invited to participate in a discipleship Group. Please complete the form below. And while you’re signing up, why don’t you invite a friend or family member to sign up, too!
“This is my invitation and my challenge to us. To be unified in our purpose and deliberate in our process. To be made and to make disciples of Jesus Christ.”