Simply Missional: Discipleship

Stetzer and Geiger write,

2. Living a missional life is a part of a simple discipleship process.

Jesus’ famous words, known as the Great Commission, are often quoted yet also misunderstood in many churches. “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Many read, “teaching them everything” in Jesus’ famous command. But Jesus challenges us to teach people to “obey everything.” The end result of discipleship is obedience, not merely information. The test of our ability to disciple people is not how many times we gather people in the warehouse to download more information into their brains. The test of our ability to disciple is how we effectively move people to obey the command of being Christ’s witnesses (Acts 1:8).

Oww! Here amongst the Churches of Christ we are big on classes. We love Bible study. We love a great lesson. We traditionally have two sermons, two classes, and many a short devotional per week. Many churches actually add small groups on top of all that, creating three lessons per week. Women will attend a morning Ladies bible classes, creating four lessons per week! We love to study.

But being obedient is a bit tougher. It’s not that we are against obedience. We’re all for obedience — so long as “obedience” is defined as getting the patterns right. But when “obedience” means talking to our neighbors about Jesus or helping people in need (not just sending money), well, we complain. Or we suggest that the preacher visit us to study the question.

Churches with a simple process seek to lead people to be doers of the word, not just hearers (James 1:22). Discipleship to these churches is not information, but transformation. And a true disciple is someone who seeks to transform the community around him. Such churches streamline their programming to create space in the lives of their people to live as a disciple/missionary in their community. Too many churches are filled with busy consumers rather than missional disciples.

How do you know whether your church has a consumer mindset? Well, if people complain because you don’t sing the old hymns or because you gave their room in the building over to a ministry, they’re consumers. If they want a big auditorium so their daughter’s wedding pictures will be beautiful, or if they complain when Sunday night is canceled to make time for small groups, they’re consumers. 

But if they complain for lack of volunteer opportunities or because they want to know their talents or because they want more equipping or because the sermons aren’t challenging enough, then you’ve made the turn.

Leaders of these simply missional churches understand that a broader vision for discipleship must be cast, a vision that results in obedience, not simply knowledge. By instilling in the hearts and minds of their members a paradigm whereby daily they look and listen for the activity of the Holy Spirit and the voice of God as they move through their day, these ordinary citizens are transformed into missionaries, sent from a Kingdom not of this world into a place that is dry and hungry for redemption on every level.

Leaders, can you get your members away from study for the sake of study and move them toward study that challenges and transforms? Can you get them comfortable talking about the Holy Spirit as present, real, and effectual? Can you get them to see the world as God sees it — hurting and desperate for Jesus?

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About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
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