By Josh Daffern
Many churches have a general mission statement that goes something like this: “To glorify God by making fully-devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.” By the way, that’s the mission statement at the church where I currently serve and it’s a restatement of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 to go and make disciples of all nations.
The real question is: what does it mean to make “fully-devoted disciples”? That’s the point where many churches can diverge. To make fully-devoted disciples there has to be an element of evangelism. We can’t make new disciples if we are not effectively reaching people outside of the faith. That’s the first step to making fully-devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.
The second step is the one we all love: discipleship. Once a person comes to Jesus, there’s a whole host of baggage that needs to be unpacked from their life before Jesus. There’s the sin nature to wrestle with, addictions to break, mindsets to change. Transformation needs to happen through biblical community. People need to grow in their Bible knowledge and grow in their faith. But if that’s where we stop, we haven’t yet made fully-devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.
And that’s just it. That’s where so many churches stop, on a never-ending treadmill of more and more Bible knowledge (which is great) and more and more fellowship with other believers (which is needed). But a fully-devoted disciple is not simply the Christian with the most Bible knowledge. Bible knowledge in and of itself does not equal spiritual maturity. In Jesus’ day, the people with the greatest Bible knowledge were the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law, who ended up being Jesus’ greatest opponents.
The final step in creating fully-devoted disciples circles all the way back around to evangelism. The mark of a fully-devoted disciple is a disciple who is making other disciples, a disciple who is bringing others to the faith either through personal evangelism or bringing others with them to church to introduce them to Jesus. That’s why I’ve said for years that evangelism is the greatest form of discipleship.
If we in our churches are not creating disciples who regularly create other disciples, we are not succeeding in the mission of making fully-devoted disciples of Jesus Christ. In the end, all we’re making at best are Doctrine Police and Bible Trivia Experts and at worst are Couch Potato Christians who sit and soak rather than serve and send. If you want to see who the fully-devoted disciples of Jesus Christ are, don’t necessarily go to the biggest churches or find the Christians with the most seminary degrees or the ones who are the most confident (i.e. arrogant) about their doctrine. Find disciples who are making other disciples. Evangelism is the greatest form of discipleship.
QUESTION: What do you think? Can a Christian be a fully-devoted disciple if they are not making other disciples?
Born and raised in California, Josh graduated college from California Baptist University and spent two years as a missionary in Africa before coming back to America and finding the love of his life (Robin). Josh graduated from New Orleans Seminary with a Masters of Divinity and a Doctor of Ministry. Josh has been involved in full-time ministry for over twenty years. He enjoys hiking, beach volleyball, reading, playing anything competitive, and rough-housing with his kids. Josh, his gorgeous wife Robin, his outrageously handsome boys Zeke, Shepherd and Lincoln and his princess Elle, live in northern Virginia. Josh also blogs on Beliefnet as Next Steps: Inspiration From Scripture for Your Next Step of Faith and you can find links to all his content on joshdaffern.com.