By Jared Kirk
“If we commit to being disciples, we’ll have a great church. If we commit to making disciples, we’ll have an unstoppable church.”
I’m convinced that our churches are filled with well-meaning Christians who love Jesus, read their Bible, pray to God, and serve other people. Yet those same Christians never obey Jesus' command to make disciples, teach their Bible to others, pray for the people they are discipling, or train another person to serve. In short, our churches are filled with people committed to being disciples, but not actually making disciples.
There are two primary causes for this. First, people have settled for a vision of Christian maturity far short of what Jesus commands. The end goal proposed in the Bible is a disciple who is bold and who takes faith-filled risk to see others come to know Christ and grow in Him. It’s likely that our church leaders have short-changed us on this vision for the Christian life, teaching us to settle for a comfortable Christianity where we rely on them and their gifts, knowledge, and teaching forever. Staying as spiritual teenagers, never able to grow up and have a family of our own. The second cause for churches filled with people committed to being disciples but not making disciples is fear. And it is this barrier that I will address today.
So many Christians have never made a single disciple because they are paralyzed by fear. Insecurities, doubts, and questions run wild through their minds. Questions like:
What if I ask someone to begin to meet together and they say, “No”?
What if I ask them if they are ready to accept Christ and they say “No”?
What if they ask questions about the Bible that I have no idea how to answer?
What if I don’t know what to say or what material to cover?
What if the person ends up worse off than when we started?
What if they figure out that my interior life is still a mess?
What if I’m terrible at it?
We are entangled by fear that prevents us from ever starting, but here is the dirty little secret that pastors never tell you. You are supposed to feel some fear. I still do. I still walk into meetings where my goal is to help someone know Jesus and follow him and have no idea what I’m supposed to say to help this person “get it.” We are in conversations where heaven and hell are on the line and we are often under-equipped and poorly-trained. Who would do that kind of work without at least a little bit of fear?
So you may be afraid, but God is not. You may not know what to say, but God does. You might be clueless about where to start, but God isn’t. You may not know what this person needs to hear, but God does. And the most insane thought a sane human can have is to be convinced that God is actually living inside him. I mean if there weren’t 2 billion Christians, but only 20 of us, then we’d all be in an asylum for sure. Yet this is the promise of Jesus and the Scriptures that God lives in us. You have the Holy Spirit in you; talking through you, pointing out Scripture through you, loving through you, calling for confession and repentance through you, guiding you, emboldening you. You may be afraid, but God knows what to do and you have God living in you!
An effective Christian may seem fearless on the outside, but experience some fear on the inside. The important thing is not whether you feel afraid, but whether your faith is greater than your fear! I’m more convinced than ever that if you haven’t needed to have a bold faith recently it’s probably because you aren’t discipling anyone. If you want to live in that place where you are depending on God to show up or you have no other options, then you need to start making disciples. Have faith in God, he’s stronger and closer than you know.
If you embrace as a vision for your life and Christian walk that includes making disciples and you’re not afraid to just go for it, then there is very little that can stop you. Would examples, training, and modelling help you? Absolutely and the leadership of the church has a sacred responsibility to equip you to minister (Eph 4). But list no excuses, accept no substitutes, accommodate no distractions until you resolve to make a disciple. Get in the game. For the glory of God and the good of all men.
Jared Kirk is the founder and lead pastor of Renewal Church.