by Steve Doerksen, SWCC Church Planting and Connection Group Consultant
Is the Great Commission about evangelism or discipleship? I’m not actually interested in your answer to this either/or question. Rather, I’m interested in the fact that this question actually makes sense to us when it shouldn’t. Why have we divorced these two biblical principles as if they’re mutually exclusive? We understand that the Great Commission tells us that as we are going about our daily lives, we must be working at the task of making disciples. It’s disciples making disciples and in this process the disciple in submission to Jesus Christ lives out and grows in his/her discipleship.
That’s why a mission trip, an evangelistic conversation, sharing your testimony, participating in an outreach event, or joining a church plant team, potentially can produce dynamic discipleship development and are catalytic to spiritual growth. Imagine the growth in Peter that occurred as a result of his obedient preaching of the Gospel during Pentecost in the midst of threats and hostility. Certainly Paul and Barnabas grew spiritually as they taught and planted churches throughout Asia and can’t we assume Phillips’ growth as a disciple when he experienced supernatural transportation to a divine appointment with a notable Ethiopian? Then there was Stephen who attained the ultimate stage of discipleship development as he shared his vision of Christ.
So the question is, are you playing a role as a member of a biblical church that is intentionally and prayerfully reaching out to non-believers with the Gospel in order to lead them to a faith in Christ and a commitment to His body? If your answer is yes, that’s great, keep doing it and growing as a disciple! My next question is, are you being asked by God to play a bigger role…a role of greater sacrifice…a role that requires you to step “out of the boat?” If so, then you are on the precipice of significant discipleship development. Pray and move forward confidently to whatever new responsibility God presents.
It’s during these times that God calls us to set aside our own preferences and goals to prioritize his goals. In the process of your obedience you will grow like never before. As such He may call you to join your church leadership board, or to begin teaching, or to take on a big administrative role as a volunteer. Or, sometimes his clear call isn’t to go but to stay put and be faithful in a job that many may find undesirable or to serve a church that is in transition or turmoil. For some, God is calling you to a cross-cultural ministry or to help with a church plant. Just remember that whatever His call is, you will sacrifice some personal preferences and conveniences, but you aren’t by any means sacrificing discipleship. Your new role, designed by God to help your church make disciples, will in affect produce the same in you!