Discipleship or Outreach is the Wrong Question? Part One - Pastor Jerry Carter - October 24, 2018

Our denominational mission statement, “To Make Christlike Disciples in the Nations,” highlights a biblical truth many in the pulpit miss. When we get it wrong, a chain reaction of frustration and confusion follow. I recently realized I am guilty of causing this kind of frustration and confusion and I apologize. Even more embarrassing, this truth is highlighted in The Great Commission from Matthew 28:18-20; 

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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.”

Of the four verbs or actions we are called to do, three are subsumed under one. Don’t let the order of the verbs confuse you. The key verb is actually to make disciples. In order to do this, we must first go, then welcome folks into our fellowship(baptism),and then begin the life long process of teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded.

The second thing to notice is all the verbs are continually being done. None are one and done. To make disciples we must continue to go, continue to baptize, and continue to teach. Part of learning or becoming a disciple necessarily involves continually going, baptizing, and teaching.

The third thing to notice is just as God is sender (God, the Father) and sent (God, the Son), we too are both sender and sent.

Which means…if we aren’t constantly going (serving and sharing our faith), then becoming a disciple will be unnecessarily difficult, frustrating and confusing because part of the process of becoming a disciple is going (learning to serve and share your faith).

Here’s the kicker;Do our current practices make disciples who continually go so the body can baptize and teach?

And, if we aren’t making disciples, continually going so the church can baptize and teach, what are we teaching? This is a challenge to me and every teacher or leader at Richland Nazarene to rethink how we teach.

The mistake we make is in talking about evangelism/outreach and discipleship as if they were two separate subjects to be taught and learned or two different activities in which the church should be involved. The truth is they aren’t even two sides of the same coin as I’ve often stated. The better way is understanding evangelism/outreach is as one of the essential practices in making disciples alongside the practices of baptism and bible study.

So how does a church move from evangelism/outreach as one of many choices that few choose, to a church where outreach is an organic part of the very fabric of the discipleship program? We would love to hear your thoughts and comments providing they aren’t profane or unnecessarily mean. I cry easy.

I will share my thoughts in Part Two next week.