Today I’m sharing with you content I made recently for 12Church, which is the new venture alternative church model we’re a part of. This training really is about the five commitments that are actually required to be an effective disciple maker. It’s based on the learnings from our past year of more focused disciple making, and some of these things will be principle based and fairly obvious. Others are gonna be a little bit more tactical, practical focused, and you might be surprised in particular at one of them which is a very specific methodology that is showing up around the world in disciple making movement.
This past year has been a huge learning curve in many ways, unlearning things I’ve learned after decades of ministry and decades of being a Christian and inputting some new information, ideas and convictions that will help us be makers of disciples. So today here are the five simple trajectory, changing commitments that are required if we’re going to be disciple makers.
Number one is a commitment to the great commission. Whether you want to focus in on the great commission of Matthew 28 where we’re called to make disciples, going, baptizing, teaching them to obey. Or whether you want to focus on Acts 1:8 and receiving power when the spirit comes on you and being witnesses, it doesn’t matter. The idea is about joining Jesus on his mission and being committed to that mission to be committed to the great commission.
It doesn’t just mean giving it lip service and saying, that’s a great idea. Being committed to the great commission means shaping your life around joining Jesus on mission. This cuts deep. I heard recently about a three year-old church plant that started a church and they were on mission, wanted to change their community, and reach people.
But three years in the pastor stood up and basically cancelled the church, setting it up for a restart and said something along these lines. “In three years, we’ve moved from being a group of people on mission to a group of people who complain about the way the offering is being taken.” See, we all want to make the mission about us. We always want to cater to our preferences and our comfort, and that is the exact opposite of being on a mission of any kind. It’s not about us.
It’s fairly safe to say that most Christians are not on mission with Jesus. They have not made this commitment to the great commission, which then raises a very interesting question; can you be committed to Jesus but not committed to his mission? And if you’re not committed to his mission, are you committed to Jesus? I don’t think so.
Number two is a commitment to clearly communicate God’s story. To clearly communicate the Gospel and learn how to do this in a way that could be understood by someone who is completely unchurched, which is the challenge. Now it may be as simple as using something like Roman 6:23, “For the wages of sins, death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We recently did a training showing how to share the gospel, the whole story from that verse.
Perhaps it might be as thorough as sharing the entire scope of history from creation to the fall, to the flood, the nation of Israel, the gospels, the life of Jesus, his death, his resurrection, his ascension, the letters to the churches, and the imminent return of Jesus; the story of God in the full scope. But the commitment here is to commit to tell the story, to tell the basic gospel in a way that is understandable to someone who’s never been to church or never read the Bible and doesn’t know all the Christian lingo.
The more churched you are, the more scripture you’ve read, the more immersed you are in the Christian culture, the more difficult this is to do. There are so many assumptions we make about biblical knowledge, biblical terminology, the story of Jesus, the gospel, and this commitment to clearly communicate the story of God and the gospel in a way that could be understand by anyone is a big commitment and a real challenge, but it’s essential if we’re going to be disciple makers,
Number three is a commitment to clearly share your story of God’s work in you. In essence this is your testimony of who you were before you came to Christ, how and then the now of what is he’s up to today. Again the challenge is to do this in a way that could be understood by absolutely anybody, and when you share your story, it naturally links up with the story of God and the gospel. In fact, in many cases, sharing your story leads to an opportunity to share the gospel and your story should have the gospel woven through it.
In 12Church we challenge people to be able to share their story in 30 seconds, three minutes or 30 minutes. In fact, if you take the time to write out your story clearly in a way that would take about three minutes, you’ll be equipped to share it in very short order, 30 seconds or over a longer conversation with a friend maybe over multiple conversations. Commit to clearly communicating your story. This is essential for makers of disciples,
Number four, and this one might surprise you because maybe you’ve never heard of this commitment. Number four is a commitment to learn how to facilitate Discovery Bible studies. Now Discovery Bible study is a very simple method of studying scripture together with a group of people that doesn’t require anything except the Bible itself. In fact, the person who is facilitating the study is not in essence leading the study. They’re just facilitating it because people discover what the scripture says. This is very simple and transferable because all you need to know are the basic questions to ask.
Here’s a simple outline: You read the passage, you have someone retell the story in their own words, others fill in the details and then you ask the questions. What jumps out at you? What does this story tell us about God, Jesus or his plan? What does this story tell us about people? What about this story challenges you and encourage you? What will you do as a result of what’s in this story? And who will you share this story with? That’s a discovery Bible study.
Once you know that basic outline, you are never stuck to lead a Bible study in any context. The beauty of this methodology is you have the scripture in front of you. Maybe you have it printed out or everybody has their own Bible, or they have it online and anybody can engage. One of the great challenges of Discovery Bible studies is to make sure that the churched people, the Christians, don’t insert things from outside that passage or things they’ve heard some preacher somewhere say about the passage or historical background. Deal with the raw word of God and allow people to discover who Jesus is and what he’s done.
Discovery Bible studies are currently at the core, at the root, at the foundation of many disciple making movements around the world right now. They work in every culture in every context. I believe every disciple maker should learn how to lead, how to facilitate Discovery Bible studies.
Number five is a commitment to pray and pay attention. A commitment to intercede, listen for the promptings, and for the voice of the Spirit. What we’re talking about here is a disciplined spirit directed intercession disciplined in the sense that you may have a pattern, a list, a routine of intercession that you go through.
There’s a discipline to it, while at the same time being open to the leading of the spirit in how you are praying, what you’re praying, who you’re praying for and how you then follow through with application with being an answer to those prayers. This will often look like a prayer walk, walking around your community, your neighborhood, or an area where you feel called to represent Jesus, walking and praying and listening, talking to people, blessing people, maybe with people, praying for people.
Whenever you’re praying on your own in the street, anywhere, you are constantly listening for the promptings and the voice of the spirit? You are constantly asking him, how do you want me to represent Jesus right now in this time and place? While you’re praying, you’re looking for people of peace, those who are responsive to you, those who resonate with your story, who like you. Look for people who can be an avenue into sharing the gospel with a wider variety of people in that area.
As you pray, look for opportunities to share your story, to share God’s story and ultimately for people with whom to do a Discovery Bible study. Praying and paying attention really starts the whole ball rolling. There is no disciple making movement without a prayer movement.
As you think about these five simple commitments, which one is a growth area for you? Are you committed to the great commission? Are you committed to clearly sharing God’s story? Clearly sharing your story? Are you committed to learning discovery Bible studies- one of the most effective ways of growing people up in the faith and in fact, bringing them to faith? Are you committed to being a Spirit-directed intercessor?
I encourage you right now to pick one of these areas that is your greatest growth area. Commit to it, grow in it and take the next step in joining Jesus all in on mission.