Missional

Great Commission: Teach them to obey everything

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All of Jesus' disciples are to make others what they themselves are—disciples of Jesus Christ.

DA Carson

Jesus’ universal authority is central to the foundation to his Commission to make disciples.

Disciples accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Inwardly they believe in him and are united with God. Outwardly they learn to obey him. Their first act of obedience is to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There can be no discipleship without calling people to a living relationship with Christ.

Mission does not end with conversions. Repentance and faith must always lead on to teaching new disciples to obey what Jesus commanded, including the command to make disciples. This Commission was not just for the first apostles. Discipleship fuels multiplication.

New disciples are to learn how to follow and obey Jesus as their Teacher and Master. No Christian teacher can usurp his position (Matt 23:8-10).

Jesus is concerned with a way of life. Disciples learn by hearing and obeying Jesus’ example and his commands.

To say that there is a conflict between the Great Commission (make disciples teaching them to obey everything I have commanded) and the Great Commandment (love your neighbor as yourself) is an absurdity. You cannot fulfill one without the other.

Jesus’ commands have universal and enduring authority. Heaven and earth will pass away, but his words will never pass away (Matt 24:35). They are always true.

Failure to disciple, baptize, and teach the peoples of the world to obey Jesus’ commands is a failure of discipleship. You can’t be a disciple, and not make disciples, who are themselves obeying Christ’s command to make disciples.

It’s not easy, but it is clear.

Great Commission series so far:

The Great Commission — Make disciples

Ask eighteen missional experts what they think mission is and only half of them will identify the making of disciples as the essence or heart of the mission of Jesus.

Ask Jesus what it means to be missional and he’ll point you to his example and his teaching.

In the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20) all mission activity is directed towards the main verb — make disciples. Making disciples is characterized by going, baptising and teaching them to obey everything Jesus has commanded.

To be a disciple is to be called to make new disciples. Multiplication is built into this Commission.

We are called not to get decisions but to make disciples in the same manner in which Jesus made disciples.

What is a disciple?

The whole of Matthew’s Gospel is a commentary on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Disciples are those who hear, understand, and obey Jesus' teaching and follow his example.

It couldn’t be clearer …. unless you listen to a missional expert.

Emerging from the missional fog

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For years I've been saying that the church in the West is lost in a missional fog. Ask eighteen missional experts what they think is mission is and you'll probably get nineteen different answers. One will have two views.

Only half of them will identify the Great Commission and the making of disciples as the essence or heart of the mission of Jesus.

Perhaps it's time to get back to basics and look again at the words of the Risen Lord and ask afresh how we can obey them today.

The Commission itself is amazingly compact. No words are wasted in a powerfully clear statement. No fog here.

Let's look at the structure. There is one main verb, 'make disciples' supported by three participles, 'going', 'baptizing' and 'teaching'. [ed. My high school English teacher would be proud]. Jesus' one command is to be carried out in three ways.

The goal of our mission is to make disciples, we do that by going, teaching and baptizing.

So far so good. Jesus has told us what to do and how to do it. So let's step out of the fog created by experts and take Jesus at his word. Let's assume these are the words of our Risen Lord. Every one of them is true and binding on us, his disciples. We are to obey what he says.

If you want to emerge from the fog it's a good place to start.

Related:

Emergent Mission

NewImage

Brian McLaren is right. The “emergent church” movement is growing. Not as a collective group, but as a savvy, scattered chain ever-present in the fiber of the Church.

Chelsen Vicari

Chelsen Vicari has written a perceptive article on the effectiveness of the Emergent Movement. I’ve long pointed out how ineffective the emerging/emergent movement has been in making new disciples.

But that, is not their mission. They have a social agenda which is high on symbolism and low on action. I don’t think that’s their real mission either. Their real mission is to change the church and they are very good at it.

Emergent Mission

NewImage

Brian McLaren is right. The “emergent church” movement is growing. Not as a collective group, but as a savvy, scattered chain ever-present in the fiber of the Church.

Chelsen Vicari

Chelsen Vicari has written a perceptive article on the effectiveness of the Emergent Movement. I’ve long pointed out how ineffective the emerging/emergent movement has been in making new disciples.

But that, is not their mission. They have a social agenda which is high on symbolism and low on action. I don’t think that’s their real mission either. Their real mission is to change the church and they are very good at it.

A few thoughts on mission movements and disciple making movements

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A few thoughts on movements and mission taken from some recent email correspondence with a student writing a dissertation on mission movements…

Student: The question: what is a missions movement and what kind of missions movement is it? I noticed your disciple making movement—I too feel the same way, but I seek our disciples to action/engage with humanity in a form of service (cleaning, construction, medicine, food etc).

Steve: Yes and in a disciple making movement you achieve that by teaching them to obey what Jesus commanded (Mt 28) one step at a time. i.e. love, pray, give, serve. It’s not a movement unless new disciples are learning to love God and others one step at a time. We focus on the theologically and politically correct causes. Sometimes the best thing to bring mercy and justice to a family is for a the husband to stop drinking, gambling, running around and begin engaging with his family.

Check out this post on the Reformation of Machismo in Columbia.

Let the Word and the Spirit do their work in the context of mutually accountable and supportive relationships.

Keep asking What did Jesus Do? What did his disciple making movement look like? How did he train disciples to obey has commands? What did the risen Lord continue to do in Acts and the Epistles. What you end up with is the spread of the gospel resulting in multiplying communities (NT churches) of disciples learning to follow and obey Jesus.

Student: Along with verbally proclaiming Jesus, I want to serve a meal or help them physically as an expression of Jesus’ love. — How do you define a disciple making movement?

Steve: Yes, that’s what we do and it’s what we teach disciples to do in obedience to Jesus. But doing those acts of love is not a movement unless new disciple are learning to love and teaching others to follow Jesus. 

Re defining disciple making movements: I follow Schnabel who is our greatest writer on the mission of Jesus, the Twelve, the early church and Paul. It’s worth reading this summary of Schnabel’s definition of mission then reading his books on a history of NT mission and on the book of Acts.

Student: What would you define as a missions movement?

Steve: A missions movement is the same thing as a disciple making movement. How can their be a disciple making movement that is not about mission? How can their be a missions movement that does not have at it’s heart gospel, disciples who are learning to obey what Jesus taught and the multiplication of communities that are “church” in the NT understanding?

This article on defining mission by Ferdinand is helpful.

Even better is Jesus’ promise: If you’ll follow me, I’ll teach you to fish for people. Until we’re obeying Jesus command we’ll never understand the true nature of mission.

 

A few thoughts on mission movements and disciple making movements

Screen Shot 2014 11 21 at 9 14 24 am 

A few thoughts on movements and mission taken from some recent email correspondence with a student writing a dissertation on mission movements…

Student: The question: what is a missions movement and what kind of missions movement is it? I noticed your disciple making movement—I too feel the same way, but I seek our disciples to action/engage with humanity in a form of service (cleaning, construction, medicine, food etc).

Steve: Yes and in a disciple making movement you achieve that by teaching them to obey what Jesus commanded (Mt 28) one step at a time. i.e. love, pray, give, serve. It’s not a movement unless new disciples are learning to love God and others one step at a time. We focus on the theologically and politically correct causes. Sometimes the best thing to bring mercy and justice to a family is for a the husband to stop drinking, gambling, running around and begin engaging with his family.

Check out this post on the Reformation of Machismo in Columbia.

Let the Word and the Spirit do their work in the context of mutually accountable and supportive relationships.

Keep asking What did Jesus Do? What did his disciple making movement look like? How did he train disciples to obey has commands? What did the risen Lord continue to do in Acts and the Epistles. What you end up with is the spread of the gospel resulting in multiplying communities (NT churches) of disciples learning to follow and obey Jesus.

Student: Along with verbally proclaiming Jesus, I want to serve a meal or help them physically as an expression of Jesus’ love. — How do you define a disciple making movement?

Steve: Yes, that’s what we do and it’s what we teach disciples to do in obedience to Jesus. But doing those acts of love is not a movement unless new disciple are learning to love and teaching others to follow Jesus. 

Re defining disciple making movements: I follow Schnabel who is our greatest writer on the mission of Jesus, the Twelve, the early church and Paul. It’s worth reading this summary of Schnabel’s definition of mission then reading his books on a history of NT mission and on the book of Acts.

Student: What would you define as a missions movement?

Steve: A missions movement is the same thing as a disciple making movement. How can their be a disciple making movement that is not about mission? How can their be a missions movement that does not have at it’s heart gospel, disciples who are learning to obey what Jesus taught and the multiplication of communities that are “church” in the NT understanding?

This article on defining mission by Ferdinand is helpful.

Even better is Jesus’ promise: If you’ll follow me, I’ll teach you to fish for people. Until we’re obeying Jesus command we’ll never understand the true nature of mission.