Summary: Being a disciple and making disciples is an opportunity to be blessed and to be a blessing.
Last time, we looked to verse 24 as we talked about the priority of discipleship. Discipleship refers to my growing to become more like Christ. Making disciples is what every church is obligated to do:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations . . .” - Matthew 28:19 (NIV)
And being a disciple is what every Christian is obligated to do:
“Whoever says he abides in Him ought [as a personal debt] to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself.” - 1 John 2:6 (Amplified)
We looked at FBC’s discipleship strategy, “5 Circles of Involvement.”
1. We want to involve people in the celebration circle of our church through participating in a Sunday morning Celebration Service. The primary purpose of our Sunday morning Celebration Services is for us to seek God’s face together.
2. We want to involve people in the community circle of our church through participation in a Sunday morning Bible Fellowship. In our Bible Fellowships our primary focus is on studying God’s Word together.
3. We want to involve people in the commitment circle of our church through participation in a Growth Group. The primary purpose of our Growth Groups is to share God’s life together.
Through faithful participation in a Worship Celebration, a Bible Fellowship, and a Growth Group, you can grow to know Christ better and become more like Him. Such participation provides three essential ingredients for growing as a disciple. You will be equipped with truth (the essence of discipleship); encouraged by testimony (the process of discipleship), and empowered for transformation through accountability (the goal of discipleship).
You will be more connected with your church family and thus, be given the chance to develop the three kinds of relationships we all need if we are going to become a disciple and be a disciple-maker. Each of us needs a “Paul” in our life - someone who has gone before us; each of us needs a Barnabas” in our life - someone who will stand beside us; and each of us needs a “Timothy” in our life - someone who is coming behind us. Paul explained this to Timothy this way:
“You have heard me teach things (role of a “Paul”) that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses (role of a “Barnabas”). Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people (role of a “Timothy”) who will be able to pass them on to others.” - 2 Timothy 2:2 (NLT)
It’s been said that the Christian faith is always one generation away from extinction. Because
this is true, we must always be thinking not just about how we can grow; but we must think of how we can invest in others as well. So my participation in the first 3 circles of involvement is a practical way in which I can be helped to grow; and encouraging others to participate is a way I can help others grow, too.
And as we participate in these first three circles of involvement, we will be enabled to participate in the . . .
4. The communion circle, loving God supremely and loving others selflessly. In other words, we will be obeying the Great Commandment:
“Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart...soul...and mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.’” - Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)
Believers who have entered into the Communion circle are involved in serving God’s people together - ministry - making Christ known to fellow believers. Paul describes this kind of church in Ephesians 4:11-16:
“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” - Ephesians 4:11-16 (NLT)
I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of church I want to be a part of!