Summary: Now we focus on how important it is to disciple each other within the church in order to help us disciple outside of the church.
Let’s get to our passage. Turn over to Matthew 28. This passage might be pretty familiar to you, but that’s ok. When you get to Matthew 28, we’ll read verses 19-20. Pay attention to this passage…as it lays the foundation for what we’re studying today. Let’s read our passage for today…again, it’s Matthew 28:19-20.
It says: 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Now, today we’re going to be talking about disciple making in a way that we might not normally think of it. Usually when we hear Jesus’ Great Commission, we automatically think of going off into the farthest reaches of the world…to the darkest corners…to the least reached people…and make disciples and baptize them and teach them. And that’s certainly needed.
Or…ok…maybe you don’t go that far. Maybe for you it means going out to the community around you and making disciples and baptizing them and teaching them. Which…that’s certainly needed as well.
So while we need to do those kinds of things to live out Jesus’ instruction to us as his disciples today…we also need to recognize the value of discipling in the church. In fact…if we don’t disciple within the church, then that might hurt the disciple making we try to do out in this world.
*It also needs to be stated that discipling in the church isn’t the only discipling we do in our lives. It’s part of it…but not all of it. But we can’t ignore what scripture says about the need for disciple making in the church. So before we really get into how we can follow Jesus’ command to go…let’s look at making disciples…here.
**Let’s start this morning with where discipling in the church needs to start…with the elders and deacons. Disciple making in the church means that we trust our leaders.
There are a few passages in the New Testament that lay out the qualifications for elders…also called “overseers”…and deacons in the church. The one that you could argue gives the most detail is 1 Timothy 3:1-13. We won’t read that now, but it talks about how elders need to be above reproach, a husband of but one wife, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, and must manage his own family well. For deacons, they are to be men of respect, sincere, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They too must be the husband of one wife and manage their children and household well. Again, you can read more details there, and in Titus 1:5-9 and I encourage you to do so.
It is their role…their calling…to shepherd the flock…the church… and to ensure the needs of the people are met…both physically and spiritually. That’s what we read in 1 Peter 5:1-9. It says: “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”
The leadership sets the tone for the rest of the church body. If they lead by the Holy Spirit, the church will be filled with the Spirit. If they lead by their own desires and leave the Holy Spirit out of most of their leadership…the congregation will flounder. If they put disciple making as a priority…the rest of the church should follow suit.
Now, notice…I said the rest of the church…should…follow suit. That’s because the members of the congregation need to trust their leaders. If they don’t…then they’re not following the instructions given in scripture. What kinds of instructions? Turn to Hebrews 13:17. There, it says: “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
*And that’s not all. In the verses following what we already read in 1 Peter, we read about the importance of submitting to those who are older…and to be self-controlled and alert. Because our enemy the devil prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour. But if we resist him…which will happen if the leaders lead and the congregation trusts them…he will flee from us. … But if they leaders don’t lead…or the people don’t trust…then there will be troubles.