Summary: The Lord calls us into Fellowship, Ministry and Demonstration of His Power.
The Church’s Discipleship-Making Ministry is a Divine Imperative. Divine imperatives are the non-negotiables of Faiths. They are functions that particular faiths demand and ‘impose’ on the adherents of the faith. In Christianity divine imperatives may include holiness, prayer, offerings, obedience, fasting, evangelism, accountability, discipleship-making etc. Our resurrected Lord instructs the church to,
‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’ Matt. 28 19-20.
Jesus sends his believers to call Nations to commit themselves to Him as Master and Lord. The instruction to go to the Nations is for all Believers; Lay, Ordained, Young, Old, etc. Specifically, the instruction to go into the Nations is to make disciples. A healthy and vibrant church is determined among others by the quality of its discipleship. When discipleship-making suffers the church’s life and witness subsequently becomes indented. Discipleship-making definitely is to attract the church’s resources, mobilization, capacity building, intercessions etc. as the church seeks to be relevant to society and offer the utmost glory to the Lord of the Harvest. Areas that will be considered in this presentation are,
1. Discipleship-Making as a call to Relationship and Fellowship.
2. Discipleship-Making as a call to Transformation.
3. Disciple-Making as a call to a Vocation and Ministry.
4. Disciples as People of Power
5. The Context/ Environment for Discipleship-Making
Our Lord Jesus calls those who accepts him as his disciples. A disciple of Christ is a person who accepts, believes, is convinced and admires him as Lord. They are dedicated followers of Christ and assist in the spreading of the Christian faith. Jesus invites people from all nations and backgrounds to be his disciples. The foundations of discipleship, according to Mark include relationship, ministry and demonstration of power over sicknesses and demons.
‘And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach , and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons Mark 3:13-15. (NKJV)
Discipleship-Making as a call to Relationship and Fellowship.
The primary intention of Jesus in selecting disciples is for the purpose of fellowship and relationship. He wants his disciples first and foremost to be with him. There may be many activities and roles for a disciple of Christ to play in the church however, the starting point of Christian discipleship making must always be responding and developing a relationship with the Lord. Paul in his benedictions frequently calls for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and his fellowship to be upon the disciples.
‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the Communion/fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all’ 2Cor 13:14. (NKJV)
One of the primary task of disciples and those in the ministry of making disciples is to develop the deep sense of love to be with the Lord. This fellowship with the Lord must be both private and public. Moreover, the relationship must take place at all levels of a person’s development. As it is expected age, economics, education, ethnicity, gender, social status, etc. should not take a disciple away from the fellowship with the Lord.
The fellowship with the Lord must lead to fellowship with other disciples of Christ. A disciple must be enthused to associate with other disciples of Christ. A disciple must not be ashamed to associate with the Lord and other people who have also responded to the invitation to become his disciples. In the admonishing of the Apostle Paul,
‘Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching’ Heb. 10:23-25.
The disciples will receive the blessings of the fellowship with the Lord and also be a blessing in the fellowship only when they make themselves constantly available for the fellowship. Christian discipleship-making, it must be noted, develops its roots, growth, maturity, strength and appropriation in relationship and fellowship. A disciple must not only be enthused about what can be taken out of the fellowship but also what can be brought into the fellowship. Those in the ministry of discipleship-making must always pay attention to the development of the relationship and constant fellowship with the Lord and his church.
The fellowships vertical (the fellowship with the divine) and horizontal (fellowship with the church/members) dimensions of discipleship must be developed and consciously sustained at all times. It’s strange for a person to have relationship with the Lord without fellowship with His church, but it’s suicidal for a person to have relationship with the church without a fellowship with Christ. Such individuals may love the church for varied reasons that eventually will make them live sinful lives in the church. It’s the vertical relationship (relationship with the Lord) that keeps the disciples in the consciousness of the presence of the Lord and the fear of the Lord in their lives at all times.