Discipleship is basically intentional biblical friendship.
It’s friendship with a goal of helping the other person become more like Christ. It involves encouraging, rebuking, teaching, correcting, doing whatever it takes to help the other person actually live like Christ wants them to live. The kind of discipleship we are talking about is where you get in another person’s life, you know them, you show them what it means to live for Jesus, you carry their burdens with them, we could go on and on.
And the reason I kind of start rambling about all of this is because it’s hard for me to overstress the importance of these kinds of friendships going on at the church. I get worked up about it. In fact to help you understand how important I see these being, if you were going to ask me, what would be a sign our church was successful, I think my answer would have something to do with us, being filled with individuals who are doing this, who are really following Christ themselves and who changing and maturing and who are involved in relationships with other people where they are helping them do the same.
It’s not that complicated.
Jesus made our mission as a church very clear when he calls on us in Matthew 28 to make disciples.
We can’t improve on that.
We can’t neglect it.
As someone has put it,
“The church was not designed to be a group of spectators who simply attend weekly lectures; it was designed to be a trained army with a powerful message. All believers are the messengers who bring the message to others and then continue the process by discipling those who believe.”
The whole church is called to this. Every Christian has a role to play. And so really we can say, that success for us as a church, is when everyone in the church is growing as a disciple personally, and growing as a disciple-maker as well. When everyone is at some level involved in the work of helping reproduce other disciples.
If you think of the church as a sport, (which isn’t the best way to think of the church to be honest but it gets the point across,) if you think of the church like a sport, there’s different ways you can watch a sport, you can watch a sport on your television, you can watch it from the stands, you can even watch it from the sidelines, or you can actually get in the game and see what’s happening from there, and when it comes to making disciples as a church, none of us who are real believers, have the right to be just sitting on the sideline or the stands or in our chairs at home watching.
“Disciple-making happens best when Christians play together as a team to make disciples. Each Christian has something to offer in disciple-making.”
For us to grow the way God wants us to grow as a church, “each member of the church needs to get out of the stands, off the sidelines and into the game, using the abilities God has given to be part of this wonderful mission of making disciples.”