More than coffee and donuts...
My failed attempts at disciple-making have been less about a lack of knowledge and more about my lack of brokenness.
Our call to make disciples is not enigmatically embedded in the Bible. There’s no secret code to decipher. Jesus was straightforward about it:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations… (Matthew 28:19, ESV)
However, disciple-making doesn’t just pop up spontaneously… kind of like how you don’t see a house framed in first, then the foundation.
Someone needs to "go” first…
People who do not know the Lord are not innately predisposed to seek him. People who do know the Lord experience a paradigm shift in how they think: The world is not here to serve us... we are here to serve the world. That means we go first. But let’s be clear: Going to people already congregating elsewhere is not the “going” Jesus mandated. We should go like the Apostle Paul did…
“and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”” (Romans 15:20-21 ESV)
Someone needs to go where it’s really hard to go…
To people who know little or care nothing about our conception of God or our devotion to his words. For people like this, it’s harder to begin by talking about God or the Bible. Lifestyle and a long term commitment to selfless love of neighbor will help pave the way for building relationships and drawing people to our message.
To people who know about Jesus but choose not to follow him. Some mistake the way of Jesus as just one more religion of “comply, behave, don’t mess up before you die… or you’ll go to hell anyway.” They haven’t seen or felt what fullness of life in Jesus is like… a life of joy, peace, hope and intimacy, while we wait to be carried into his presence forever.
To people who have been misled—even abused—by some who claimed to be representing God. They have been betrayed in the worst possible manner.
We should go because we should. But oddly, the last thing we can do is make anybody follow Jesus. We will need more than we can give. Disciple-making will be the hardest thing we do… until it becomes the easiest thing we do.
Missionary and author Amy Carmichael (1867–1951), wrote a poem entitled, “Fire-Words”1 She cries out, “O God, my words are cold.”
Then the response comes to her…
Thou shalt have words
But at this cost, that thou must first be burnt…
Not otherwise, and by no lighter touch,
Are fire-words wrought.
I repeat: My failures in disciple-making have been less about a lack of knowledge and more about my lack of brokenness. True brokenness is still out there on the horizon for me. Pulpiteering has not helped me with this. What helps me today is spiritual communion with others who share the same desire: “Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord.”2
Sometimes sobremesa (table-talk) turns into an internal wrestling match “Go, Greg… here’s the window you’ve been waiting for… do it now!” Invariably, lightness and freedom follow on the heels of true brokenness, along with a full confidence in The One who will do as he pleases with the Gospel seed.
Speaking the Gospel is never in vain.
“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” (1 Corinthians 1:17 ESV)