Jesus instructed in the Great Commission for his disciples to go and make more disciples. He spent almost every hour of three years with twelve men. Through his instruction and example, those remaining knew how to pass along everything they had to others who would go and do the same. The fact that you are reading this article indicates that the process is working!
Read Jesus’ parting words to his disciples in Matt. 28:16-20. As you read, notice the description of what he called them to do.
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:16-20
Jesus instructed them to make disciples. Have you ever considered the difference between a disciple and a convert?
The Great Commission calls us to make disciples – not converts.
As he ascended into the skies, Jesus clarified our purpose of discipleship when he delivered the Great Commission. The job is incomplete when someone comes to faith in Christ. Discipleship – and not conversion – is the goal.
Our work is incomplete until every other disciple is fully complete.
My goal is not just to experience my budding maturity but to observe yours as well. Being unified in the faith, we all grow up to a satisfying fullness. That is why discipleship is so vastly important. Jesus did not call us to make converts but disciples. We are to continue growing and developing until the moment we finally see our Savior.
Evangelism is necessary, but it is not ultimate. Even though many of us possess a crippling fear surrounding the task of evangelism, we at least acknowledge that we are supposed to be involved in such work. The danger lies not in focusing upon evangelism but in neglecting discipleship.
Jesus gave us the standard of “teaching them to observe all that I commanded,” and we expect simple information transfer to happen in abbreviated classes.
Discipleship requires more. Jesus wanted disciples – not converts. He discipled men who would continue to grow, not just men who would maintain an undeveloped faith.
Pray that God would help you understand the need for discipleship in your life and in how you should invest in others. Just because someone has received the gospel does not mean that your work is done.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.