The Great Commission’s main thrust is that we make disciples. It’s the only verb in the passage that is an imperative. The other verbs (going, baptizing, and teaching) are all participles which tell us how we are to go about making disciples. If making disciples, then, is the command of the Great Commission, we need to know how to do it. Going, baptizing, and teaching are the methods mentioned in the Great Commission itself. But once we reach people with the gospel, how do we teach them? Can we break that down a bit in order to be more faithful to teach them all that Christ has commanded us?
I read an excellent series of blog posts recently written by Mike James that discussed 5 ways to make disciples. Of the 5 ways that he mentioned, I consider 2 of them to be basically identical (utilizing Sunday School and small groups), but I can see why he might split them into to two categories.
Of the discipleship methods Mike named, it’s my opinion that one-on-one mentoring is severely lacking in our churches. We’ve somehow got it into our heads that church is an event rather than an active fellowship of believers. We’re pretty good about discipling through the preaching and Sunday School hours, but when it comes to keeping one another accountable and spurring one another on throughout the week, we often drop the ball.
Why is this the case? Well, it’s certainly easier not to disciple each other like this. Not doing this becomes the default action because it’s less risky. We risk our relationships when we attempt to disciple one another in such a personal, direct way. What if the other believer doesn’t want to heed your admonition?
If we’re going to correct this, we’ve got to be intentional. We’ve got to be willing to take risks. We’ve got to speak the truth in love. But even more importantly, we’ve got to realize just how essential this kind of discipleship is for our spiritual growth. It’s one thing to sit in a room while instructions are given to many people at the same time, but it’s quite another thing to be given specific, personal instruction one-on-one.
It’s our privilege to encourage one another in our walk with Christ. If God has saved us by His grace, then what I’m talking about is in reality less of a risk and more of a blessing. Be a blessing to your family in Christ.