Growth by Discipleship

May 05, 2019

One thing I know is that I’m called to make disciples. And it’s not only because it’s the Great Commission, the final charge of Jesus for His people to obey.

For some reason, since my teenage years the echo of those two words “Make Disciples” lingers with me every time I read Matthew 28:18-20 or hear it preached.

In Christian bookstores I have sought out books on discipleship for no particular reason other than I felt drawn to them more so than any other topic. Further cementing this call in my soul were the years I spent teaching ‘Discipleship’ at C3 College in Sydney.

In the Book of Acts we see that when disciples are made, the church multiplies with growth. This is great news because most of us want to see our churches grow and multiply. But I have found I need to be careful because it’s easy to become enamoured with “growth”.

Growth is exciting and growth gets us noticed but if we’re not aware of the danger, discipleship (which is a long process in today’s microwave society) can get pushed to the side to make way for things that produce more immediate results.

This is where leaders get burned out, people live under sustained pressure and volunteers can feel like chattel. Things can, will and do only get worse from there.

Discipleship will always bring growth. But it doesn’t happen overnight.

It is a classic case of the exponential curve. For a long time it seems like nothing much is happening. You are investing yourself into a small group of people, teaching them what it really means to follow Jesus. Then, after a couple of years they start doing the same thing with another small group of people. When you have produced disciple-making disciples, it starts to really take off. The cool part is that this is how Jesus did it. He invested Himself in a small group of people who then went and reproduced other disciples and by Acts 17:6 they had practically “turned the world upside down”.

If we will make discipleship the goal we will set in motion a community transforming kind of growth in our churches that has the added benefits of being healthy, sustainable and virtually unstoppable. And, we will be fulfilling the Great Commission.

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