Many people are familiar with the Great Commission passage in Matthew 28. Many are also aware that the main verb in that text is to make disciples. However, where should we look to see this actually take place? I think we could say it's best to look at the model of Jesus. This again is nothing new, but I think it's often times talked about more than it's actually put into practice. Jesus spent time, lots of time, with his disciples. He was teaching them, leading them, loving them, and training them. After spending three years with His disciples He then commissioned them to go and make disciples of all nations.
What does this mean for us today? I know in my own life I have not been very diligent at making disciples. I have not put the time into people as I ought. However, while I've been the pastor of FBC I did something different than I had at any other church. In the Spring of this year I began meeting with a group of 4 others every Thursday morning. We read a book together and talked about what it meant to follow Christ as we shared life together. I didn't think much about 'making disciples' as we had our breakfast, but I can honestly look back and see a couple of positive outcomes to our meetings.
The first thing I noticed is the fact that I had bonded with those 4 (sometimes up to 6) far more than others. It's not that I didn't love the others in my church, I did (do!), but these few began to grow in grace together with me. As I am preparing to leave the church for a new ministry, I can see more fruit in them than I can in others. It seems that our learning together about the implications of the gospel actually helped create a community of faith!
The second thing I noticed is how easy it was to spend the time with them. This was not difficult. I enjoyed our time together. I looked forward to getting up on Thursday mornings and meeting with them. I couldn't wait to hear their thoughts and interact with them through this book. By the end of the meetings I rejoiced to hear some of the suggestions that they were making about putting into practice the things we were learning. They were truly beginning to follow after Christ.
The bottom line of this is the fact that I had only just started. There is much more work to be accomplished. We are called to make disciples. We are called to invest our lives in the lives of others that they may become devoted followers of Christ (and that they will be able to lead others as well). We are called to do exactly what Paul says to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2, "what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."
Making disciples doesn't come over night. Making disciples takes time.