I have been thinking a great deal lately, about what is in the heart of God for those of us
who answer the call to go to the world as missionaries. Let me call your attention to
what Jesus said, when He gave us the great missionary command. In Matthew 28:18-
19, He was carefully specific in His missionary commission to those of us who would go.
He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name
of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” What struck me was that the Lord
did not say, “Go therefore and get people saved.” He knew that unless we made
disciples, as evangelistic teams and church planters, we would be wasting our time. His
church only grows when disciples are made.
The process of making disciples begins with a clear understanding of three things.
Compare these to the three legs that hold up a stool. All three legs steady the platform.
If only two are strong and upright, the stool tips and is of no value. Discipleship requires
all three of the following legs. Otherwise, the efforts will be wasted and the goal of
building God’s church will not be met. As someone appointed to deliver the message of
Christ, you must not allow this to happen. Here are the three legs that will uphold the
discipleship efforts you will engage in.
The first leg is this. You must understand the value of the people to whom God sends
you. They will be very different from you. Their customs and ways will seem strange.
They will not look like, think like or act like you. Never let this cloud your understanding
of their value to Jesus. He cares about each of them so much He died on the cross with
thoughts of them filling His heart. Will you embrace this same love for them that He
has? Will you see them through the eyes of God’s love? Will you set aside any personal
prejudices or fears you might have, and trust God to make a way as He helps you see
them with this same heartfelt love? If you will, then make a commitment to pour your
heart into so they become a picture of Christ. Love them and pour yourself out. Make
them outstanding disciples. As you can see, you have the opportunity (and the
obligation) to do more than teach them about Jesus. You must let them into your heart
and walk with them until they become reflections of Christ. You must commit to
sacrificial service toward them. Let it be defined by a transparent relationship that
reveals God’s heart for communion and community.
Second, even as you go, you must understand the value of those you leave behind.
Special among these will be your teachers, mentors and leaders. Never break the
connections you have formed. Treasure the valuable lessons you have been taught,
and especially those lessons you have caught. God has provided you people who will
pray and watch for your soul. They will be sources of wisdom that will keep you on track
and out of trouble. Never burn your bridges. Always remain connected, and honor those
who have authority in your life. This authority is a gift from God. Be sure you see it as
Third, understand how valuable you are in God’s heart. You are loved beyond measure.
Understanding this will help sustain you through your trials or temptations. It will also
help you to maintain your zeal for God. Remember that His love for you knows no
boundaries and contains unlimited power. When you most need it, God’s love will
manifest itself and give you the strength and determination to do whatever is needed.
You will become much more than just a messenger of the Gospel. You will become a
disciple maker who becomes the message. The people you teach and train will catch
what you are, and they too, will become the message.
In 1996-1998, when I was principle of the CMF School of Urban Missions at the Harbour
Centre, I determined that one thing would happen with all those I was preparing for
missions and service to the Lord. Nobody would leave the class for the day without
something changing. If you can, ask those early students, most of whom are now
seasoned missionaries and pastors, what they remembered about the whiteboard from
which I used to teach. I am sure none will ever forget that each day, in the top left
corner of the whiteboard, I wrote the word “Increase.” Everything we did and all that was
in my heart was aimed at helping these fine men and women to increase in the things of
God – every day in some meaningful way. They will testify that they did not only learn
how to do things or pick up knowledge of the Bible, but they caught the heart of God
and His zeal for the world. They increased in these things every day, as they became
just a little bit more like Jesus. I share all this with you so that you can have it in your
heart wherever it is God sends you. Pray for “increase” in your disciples. Pray they
become part of something bigger than themselves, as living stones in the house of God.
Pray they enable those they one day disciple to be the same. You have the opportunity
to see spiritual grandchildren if you properly care for and mentor those God gives you. It
is a wonderful thing.
Let me end this article with a list of the characteristics of disciple-making that will please
God and accomplish His plan, purpose and will for you – and those He gives you.
- Make your efforts intentional. Plan how you will love and train those He gives you so they will catch what is inside of you.
- Approach your mission with a sacrificial heart… and a teachable mind. Be a Romans 12:1-2 missionary.
- Let everything about your discipleship activities reflect and imitate Christ. If what you are and what you do is not imitating Christ, turn away from it and ask the Lord to change your heart, and modify your methods.
- Be part of the things your disciples are doing. Teach, watch, supervise and correct as necessary. Then joyfully release them into the fullness of their ministries.
- Be a person of fiery faith. Burn for Jesus! Ignite the hearts of those you disciple. Settle for nothing less than the Holy Spirit and fire! It must be part of who you are, and all you do to train others. Expect the supernatural intervention of God. Expect His miracles. Declare His glory and let His anointing flow.
If you will do these things, regardless of the natural circumstances, the joy of the Lord
will be your partner and strength. You will give the devil a very large headache. You will
be a winner and a champion for Jesus! I pray the fire of God will ignite in you as you
read this. Now go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.