Have you ever read or heard Jesus’ words, “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” (Matthew 28:19) and thought to yourself, “YES, I will! And the world will be transformed.” Then bam! Reality hits and you wonder, “how exactly do I make disciples? Who do I disciple? When?” Or maybe you thought, “I don’t think making disciples is for me; that’s for pastors to do, right?”
Anyone who has heard the words of the Great Commission has experienced questions like those above. And rightfully so! Making disciples should be approached with a desire for those questions to be answered, but we must depend on God to answer those rather than ourselves. Recent research shows that there has been an ongoing annual decline in the percentage of people claiming to be Christian and following Christlike living. Facts like this are hard to read.
In part one of this series, “Micro-discipleship: small moments shape us,” we looked at how the small actions we make and the words we say in everyday life become the foundation of the bigger picture in making disciples. I call this micro-discipleship, because it consists of the micro verbal and non-verbal messages that our lives communicate to those around us.
If micro-discipleship is what we communicate with our everyday innate actions and words, then macro-discipleship is what we intentionally communicate to teach people about Christ. Micro is observational in nature, and macro is intentional in nature. Both should reveal the nature of Christ.
This leads us back to macro-discipleship: how do we intentionally seek how, who, where and what to communicate? When we experience these questions, it reveals our need for God’s Spirit to empower us. If we are not looking to and relying on God to help us make disciples, we’re not making disciples for Christ.
There are foundational truths to making disciples. Here are three that can help keep us focused on the macro-discipleship component to this important kingdom work.
“Making” is a team effort
Jesus Christ said, “and surely I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20) just after he said, “go and make disciples.” We can trust Christ to direct our efforts on the how, when and what to communicate in making disciples because we are co-workers in the mission. In 1 Corinthians 3:6-9, the Apostle Paul states, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters are anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service” (NLT).
God makes things grow, not us. But we do get the joy of working alongside him. God knows exactly the disciple he is transforming each individual into and we get to join in this labor. In order to do this, we must remain close to him to know if our part is to plant or to water.
Another example is Noah building the ark. His hands gave energy and obedience to the work of God, but God provided the schematics, specifics and supplies. This same God is still providing the how, when, where and what for us today!
To make a disciple, you must be a disciple
We are all called to make disciples, and we do that when we first follow Christ in our own lives. Christ leads, we follow and when we follow him closely, we lead others to him. As we abide in Christ and the Spirit transforms us, making us into a disciple, the outcome becomes disciples making disciples. What can you do today to abide more in Christ and be his disciple?
Discipleship is not a destination, but a relationship
Did you notice in the two truths above that relationship is everything? God’s relationship with us and our relationship with others is where the Spirit of God empowers the disciple-making process. There is no final destination in making disciples because relationships are continuous, ongoing, never ceasing pursuit of love, trust and unity together. If a 13-year-old got a sense of who Christ was from you at that age, they will look to see Christ in you even when they are age 33. The goal in the discipling relationship is to seek God’s will in a person’s life and what is your part in it.
The micro and macro work to making disciples is work filled with burdens and rewards, but when we know the One who is making disciples and choose to abide in the Spirit so that we are empowered to join in the labor alongside God, the body of Christ is a light in the darkness.
Rev. Amber Kunkel is an ordained minister in The Wesleyan Church and serves as conference director for the Wesleyan Holiness Women’s Clergy Conference. She has led, served and worked in various ministry roles over the last two decades at multicampus churches and other nonprofit organizations.