Why is disciple-making your church’s thing? This question was asked by a young lady going through our membership process. She continued, “I have noticed that you all talk about disciple-making a lot, but other churches I have been to make other things more of a priority. Is this just your church’s thing? I know that there is a verse that commands us to make disciples, but is it ok that other churches focus more primarily on different ministries?” It was a great question, and I think there are some great answers.
Disciple-Making Fulfills God’s Most Ultimate Purpose
The world has purpose. There is something rather than nothing because there has always been someone with eternal purpose . That eternal someone is God. He has existed from eternity past sharing his glory with himself, but in his good pleasure he chose to share it beyond himself. Creation is an overflow of God’s glory shared. It reflects all that makes him God. Colors, sounds, tastes, mountains, flowers, clouds, all of creation with its diverse magnitude makes God look glorious (Ps 19:1). But God, by his grace and good pleasure, purposed to create a special creature who would not only reflect his glorious image most clearly (Gen 1:27), but would have the capacity to enjoy it most fully. Humans are God’s most treasured creation. We were created not only to reflect god by simply existing, but to reflect God by participating in God’s glory sharing work (Is 43:7). We were made to spread his glory. When God commanded us to be fruitful and multiply, he invited us to participate with him in a glory spreading endeavor. Then sin happened.
Sin caused mankind to fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23) and thus detached them from their God-given purpose. Sin doomed humanity to glorify God not by enjoying his goodness but by experiencing his wrath (Rom 1:18). Jesus, however, came to restore humanity to their glory sharing work once and for all (Heb 1:3). Jesus reflected the image of God perfectly and took the penalty for our failure. He overcame our penalty by rising from the dead and he sent his Spirit to restore in us what was lost. By faith, we are bein renewed in knowledge after the image of our creator (Col 3:10; 2 Cor 4:16). And once again, God desires to involve us in his glory sharing work. Jesus commands us, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). He commands us, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). These statements are not surprising. They are not new purposes, but old purposes fulfilled. When we make disciples we participate in God’s most ultimate purpose to multiply a people for himself who both known him and make him known. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom 11:36).
Disciple-Making Fulfills the Greatest Commandment
In Matthew 22:36, Jesus was asked one of the most important questions, “Which is the great commandment in the Law?” Jesus responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the Prophets.” It does not get clearer than that. God is best glorified through a people who love. But what is love, or rather, how does God want us to show love? Love is caring for and striving for the most ultimate good of another. We love when we put the joy of others before ourselves. It is true that we show love by providing for the poor, feeding the hungry, and by showing kindness, but the Christian worldview brings love into more precise focus. We believe that the most ultimate good is to be united with God through faith in Jesus. We believe that the greatest tragedy is to be separated from God for an eternity in hell. Therefore, the highest expression of love is to lead others into closer communion with God through faith in Jesus. “For the love of Christ controls us… We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:11-21). In fact, to feed the hungry or care for the poor without doing this disciple-making work is unloving. Escorting people to hell with full stomachs and a fuzzy feeling of love is not loving. We love best when we disciple most. You cannot fulfil the greatest commandment to love God and people without also obeying the great commission which brings God’s beloved people into the love of God.
There are many more arguments for the primacy of disciple-making in the local church. Jesus’ ministry prioritized disciple-making. The book of Acts prioritizes disciple-making. The New Testament epistles both model and advocate for disciple-making. It is not just one among many things that we do as God’s people. It is the primary work for which we pour out our lives. In fact all other ministries have this ministry as their end goal. Disciple-making is not just our church’s thing, rather it is God’s primary marching orders for his people. Our church’s mission is simple. Our membership exists to love God, make disciples, and plant churches by his grace & for his glory. We want to be a church where every member makes disciples.