April 2022

STOP MAKING DISCIPLES

In every church I have been to – there was always space for more people – very seldom one experiences a church building that is packed with no space for anybody else. Churches generally are too BIG.

Yet in New Testament times thousands of people flocked to Jesus – in Acts we read reports of magnitudes of people who repented.  If they used buildings in these times – surely churches would have been too SMALL for Jesus’s ministry.

How do a too BIG church transform itself into a too SMALL church? Kingfisher believes the key is disciplemaking.

Reading Matthew’s account of the Great Commission “Therefore 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 you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” can easily leave the impression that it’s WE who are making the disciples – something we must go and do.

Understanding the context: “teaching them to obey everything” means everything that He taught in the rest of Matthew – aiming at living as a new kind of person in this world. Repeating the character of Jesus – duplicating His life!     

When Jesus says “I shall make you (into fishers of men)” – He offers to build His Kingdom, His character into them – that they can become like Him.

In the gospels people streamed to Jesus in thousands – they were drawn to Him, because His life was so different. They ran from the church leaders and their judgmental attitude – but in Jesus’s presence they felt so loved and blessed. Exactly the same happened in Acts – the church grew exponentially, dramatically – because they were attracted by the lives of Jesus‘s followers. Their ordinary lives were so different that the world saw the practical difference and desired these lifestyles for themselves. The pattern for disciple making in Acts were not special sermons or evangelistic initiatives – it was the ordinary lives of His followers. Somewhere we lost this art – and made it into evangelism, crusades, evangelism programs and techniques, question- and answer methods. And none of these are bad in itself – but the most powerful tool is still the life of a follower imitating Jesus’s life and character. The everyday life of a follower becomes so attractional – it draws unbelievers towards them like a magnet – you cannot refuse the pull.

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13 NIV). The difference in their lives was clearly visible to unbelievers who observed their lives. What changed them was that they spent time with Jesus – and by living with Jesus – spending time in His presence – they were changed. You become like the one you spend time with. The Kingdom came into their lives – Jesus rulership was realized in their lives.

We all want to change the world or the church – and Jesus wants to change us! Because He knows that if we live the change ourselves – become the change ourselves – then the church and the world around us will change by itself.  We all want change – but we don’t always want to change ourselves. And often that is why the world, our marriages, relationships, businesses and people around us do not change. The problem is not out there – the problem often is in here.

Somebody said:  “I started my ministry by trying to change the world – not much happened. I then decided to change the church – everything is pretty much the same still. I then tried to change my wife, my family – not much success. Then I decided – maybe the change I want to see must happen in me first – surprise – after that my wife, my family, the church and the world started to change”.

So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately…so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud ofmaking Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11 MSG)

Available?

Stop making disciples – allow Jesus to make them – through you – by repeating His character in you.

And churches will be too SMALL.

Johann Theron 

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