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This series is all about church growth and church planting and discipleship, and we will be exploring the ways and means that all churches can follow to expand and to advance their congregations and the kingdom of God. We are going to do something that I believe nobody else did before. We are going to deal with these topics the way God wants us to do it, and that is by tackling the issues and the challenges that all churches experience, as a closely-knit unit. All churches and denominations together, as one united effort and project to advance the kingdom of God. So all churches and denominations are welcome to take part in this project.
We want to embrace all Christian churches and we are going to analyze the different challenges and difficulties and experiences that affect us all, and as a group, united in Christ, we are going to work together to improve and advance, not only the kingdom of God but all Christian churches. We are brothers in Christ. We serve the same God and we all have the same goal. We all want to change this world for Christ. We all want to see the world saved. We all want our congregations to grow and to prosper. We are all children of God. We love each other and we understand that we have differences but, with this series, we are not going to look at the differences. We are going to find solutions and strategies that work for all of us. This is where the focus will be. Of course everything will be able to be customized to fit each congregation and each church or denomination. Everybody will be able to use or to take what they feel will be beneficial for their denomination or congregation or church structure.
There will be a pool of resources and strategies and best practices and ways and means available that anyone can use. Each church or denomination or church leader can take a look at all these strategies and best practices and suggestions. It is up to each church or denomination whether they want to utilize or incorporate these strategies and how they want to do that.
We are going to look at the successes that different denominations have achieved and we are also going to discuss the failures of the church in general. We are going to look at ways and means that denominations and congregations can utilize to help them to expand their congregations and to advance the kingdom of God. The focus will not be on denominations but rather the strategies and the best practices and so on. So nobody will be put in an awkward position and nobody will be humiliated.
There will not be references to specific denominations but everything will be dealt with in a general sense. I am excited about this. It is time that we all work together and forget about the things that separate us. We should never focus on our differences. As Christians and as church leaders we should focus on our combined and individual goals.
To ensure that we achieve our goals, we will have to ask a lot of questions. As a minister or a pastor, what do you want to achieve in your ministry, in your congregation, and in your life? As a Christian, what do you want to achieve in the congregation that you are a member of and in your own life? People join congregations because of a specific need or a specific goal. So church leaders cannot ignore the needs and the goals of the members. Church leaders should attempt to help people achieve their goals. On the other hand, church members should help the congregation and the church leaders to achieve their goals. We are supposed to function as a closely-knit unit, always aware of each other’s needs and goals.
If church leaders ignore the needs and goals of the members and the members ignore the needs and goals of the church leaders as well as the congregation as a whole, we will all hinder church growth, spiritual growth, and spiritual development. By doing so we will jeopardize the well-being of the congregation and its members and the church as a whole.
So to start this series, I think the first objective should be to determine what our goals should be before we make decisions. We first need to determine what we need to achieve before we decide how we should achieve it. If we don’t start with the former, but with the how, the how might not allow us to achieve what we should.
I think that there are two very important factors that we need to consider to make sure that we are successful in this regard. The first factor or requirement or goal that we should address, is the instructions of Jesus Christ. He said that we should go out, preach the gospel of Christ, and that we should make disciples. Jesus instructed the early church to make new converts and to teach the new converts what He has taught them. So for us to be successful, we need to look at what Christ Jesus has taught the early church, and we need to make sure that we teach the new converts the teachings and methods and ways of Christ, just like the apostles did.
The second factor to consider is that church members and every addition to the family, every new convert, is a disciple that needs to be taught the ways and teachings and methods of Christ, but, we need to understand that all these people have different characteristics, personalities, gifts, ambitions, and goals.
We must not forget that apart from the common functions and goals and work of the ministry that Christ Jesus laid on us all, all these new converts and all these church members do need help and support with their individual ministries or gifts and interests and desires. All these people often do want to achieve specific and different goals. We need to consider those goals. We need to make sure that as church leaders or as the five-fold ministry, that we assist and support all those people to help them achieve their goals, in an effective and life-changing way.
Of course, the instructions of Christ are our primary goals and should be a priority but often, the personal desires and goals of different church members might be different ways that can be utilized to follow Christ’s primary or core instructions through different ways and means and methods. As leaders, we cannot dismiss people’s desires and ambitions if it appears to be different from what Christ Jesus expects from us. It might be very compatible with the instructions that Jesus gave us.
So we might have church members with no personal desires or no ambitions or who simply do not want to do what they are supposed to do. We might have church members who desire to do things that just cannot be utilized in any way to advance the kingdom of God. As church leaders, we need to support all these people. We need to guide and help them all to be obedient to Christ. We need to point them in the right direction without rejecting or ignoring their desires and gifts and ambitions.
When church members do what the Head of the church, Jesus Christ, instructed them to do, you will have the happiest church members that you can get. Because they do the right thing, they will know that God approves of their actions and the way that they perform the work of the ministry. That will cause them to feel fulfilled. They will witness God at work among them simply because He will be faithful by working with them. He will be with them and they will know it. We give the first step in the right direction and God will do his part. He will work with us. Church members will see the results and they will see the kingdom of God and the congregation itself advancing and growing right in front of their very eyes.
As church leaders we all attempt to consider the requirements and the factors that I mentioned, but, we are all guilty of falling short quite often when it comes to these aspects.
Many people know this already but I must say it to make sure that I have your attention. There are actually just a few congregations that really consider and who really address these two aspects or requirements. Church leaders do not really make new converts, they do not really teach the new converts what Jesus taught the early church and they do not really support their members by making sure that they grow and develop in these two areas.
Every church leader should ask himself the following questions: Do I really develop the congregation and empowering the members to go out to make disciples and to teach the new disciples the teachings and methods and ways of Christ? Have I put the necessary tools and programs in place that will ensure such development? Have I got an effective program in place to identify the different needs and desires of each member in my congregation and does this program include the support, assistance and evaluation, and measurement of progress made by each member?
We as church leaders are servants. We serve the members of our congregations. They are not serving us. We should know each member almost as well as we know ourselves. We should know their strengths and their weaknesses. We should be able to benefit the kingdom by utilizing their strengths and in the process, fulfill their needs and advance the kingdom of God. It is a win-win situation. However, we cannot do that if we did not involve them in practical evangelistic programs and outreaches. It is only after we have seen people in action that we will start to observe and understand how they operate or function.
We should find ways to address their weaknesses and by doing so, support them in this by developing them and causing them to grow spiritually. Of course, we need to develop the mature Christians in our congregations so that they can help us with this. The church leader cannot do everything. We are assisting everybody in our congregations to be obedient to Christ and to develop their skills and gifts. Part of this is to get them to help you, as a church leader, to carry out all these duties and responsibilities. Church leaders do need to delegate. They cannot do all the work.
In the first session of this series, we do need to lay a strong foundation. We do need to have a divine and a clear comprehension of what is exactly expected from us as church leaders. This will help us to put the right strategies in place.
To be an effective minister or leader in the church, you just cannot ignore the great commission and you cannot ignore the personal desires and gifts and callings of your members. If you have ignored these two aspects, you have failed. There is only one way to test if you have succeeded in this. Is the congregation constantly growing and expanding? Are the members of the church constantly busy with evangelical outreaches during the week? Can you see the smiles and the zeal and the enthusiasm on the faces of your members when you see them in a Sunday morning service? Are your members happy?
If the answer to these questions is no, you have failed. Remember, we cannot put our focus on how we like to or want to do things. We need to put our focus on determining what we need to do. What does God expect from us? What do the members of the congregation need? What can I do to help people to be more effective in achieving their goals? What can I do to help people to be obedient to Christ by helping them to fulfill the great commission in their lives?
If you have considered these aspects, and if you have made these issues and these aspects the foundation on which you have built your church activities, you have succeeded. The proper foundation will keep everything standing. The proper foundation will cause you to build a huge and strong structure that will never collapse, as long as you keep building on that foundation. Once you have started building on this foundation, never deviate from it. This will ensure everlasting success.
The whole purpose of this series is to help you as a church leader to put this foundation in place. The whole purpose is to help you to put all the programs and activities and methods and ways and means in place that you need to get this divinely inspired machine to get in motion and to run like a well-oiled machine. The whole purpose of this series is to help you grow and develop and expand your congregation. The whole purpose of this series is to help you to address the needs and the challenges of all your members in a way that ensures their spiritual development and growth in the church. The purpose of this series is to advance the kingdom of God.
If we are committed to this, the body of Christ will benefit greatly in ways that we have never seen before, all this because of you, man of God, because of you woman of God, who are willing to consider and to make the necessary adaptations in your life and in your congregation or area of responsibility. If you have the influence that can impact a whole denomination, just think of how the kingdom of God can advance by your actions.
Never forget, it all starts with you. In most cases, this cannot be done by church members. It starts with us, the leaders of the church. It started with Christ Jesus, the Head of the church, and it will not happen if we do not change things or if we do not get the wheels rolling. The ball is in our court. We have to be willing to get this thing off the ground in our congregations. Without you, nothing is ever going to change. This is what God wants and this is what He needs.
Remember, God will not or cannot carry out the work of the ministry for us. He delegated his power and authority to us. That is why Jesus gave us the great commission to fulfill. We need to do the job. That job will not be carried out if we do not carry it out. If we don’t do it nobody will. This is what God is looking for:
1 Samuel 2:35
And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.
This Scripture referred to Samuel. Samuel became exactly what this Scripture said. Samuel replaced Eli because God was not happy with Eli. The work of the ministry was not important to Eli and he did not do what God expected from him.
Although it referred to Samuel, this Scripture also referred to Christ Jesus. Jesus became exactly what this Scripture said. But this Scripture also refers to people like you and me. Minsters of God who are willing to be obedient to him just like Samuel was and just as Jesus Christ was. Ministers who know what is in the heart of God. Ministers who allowed Christ Jesus to put those same things in their hearts. Ministers who only say what they heard God say and who only do what they have seen God do. Faithful ministers who want to be obedient to God.
These are ministers who do not always want to be in the limelight. These are ministers who do not always want to attract the attention to them and their sermons. These are ministers who are focused on the work that needs to be done. Their focus is on the people in their congregations. Their focus is on the ways and means and methods that will help them to develop their members and to achieve their goals and to fulfill the great commission. They are focused on two things, the great commission and the needs of their members in this regard. This is the primary focus. The secondary things that they need to deal with from day to day are always secondary. It never takes the place of the primary focus.
These ministers stay faithful to the cause of Christ. The cause of Christ is making disciples and teaching them what He taught the early disciples. It never changes. They will die for this. They will not allow anything to cause them to deviate from this. These ministers are like David. And this is what God said about David:
And when he had removed him (Saul), he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.
Just like David, these ministers fulfill the will of God. These church leaders keep the focus on the great commission and by helping their members to fulfill the great commission they are faithful to God. This in itself is very fulfilling. It is amazing how good people feel about themselves when they are obedient to Christ and when they know they are. It is a wonderful feeling.
What made Samuel and David different from Eli and Saul? Simply their attitudes. That was all. There was not something great or noteworthy about Samuel or David. They did not possess any amazing quality or gift or ability or anything of the kind. These guys were just ordinary people but they were humble people with wonderful attitudes. Attitude is very important. Attitude makes a huge difference. Attitude determines whether a minister will be successful or a failure.
It all starts with a humble minister with the right attitude. These ministers often appear not to measure up but they are in fact exactly what God needs to get the job done. They are always willing, never overconfident, never arrogant, never judgmental, never lazy, never above anyone else, and never above the work of the ministry. They just get the job done. They fulfill the will of God. They are always cooperative without seeking any credit and without feeling humiliated because the job is not fitting for a man of such an important position in the church. On the contrary, ministers like this have laid everything down for the cause. Just like Jesus, they paid a price to be obedient and to please God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
This is the only thing that motivates ministers like this. They want to be obedient to God and his will no matter what it takes from them. They humbled themselves so that they can serve well. This is their only motivation. They have no hidden agendas. They have humble attitudes. Whatever you want Lord. Not my will but let your will be done in my life. They say this and they mean this, knowing that it might not be so easy.
They do not seek honor. They do not seek fame. They want to honor God and they want him to be glorified. This attitude opens all the doors. Just like with David, God will say, I have found “whatever your name is” and he shall fulfill my will. Because of this, I will work with him or with her.
This is all God is looking for. When He has found a person who is humble and who is willing to do his will, He will work with such a person and they will get the job done. They will build the church and they will advance the kingdom of God.
1 Peter 2:1-9
1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone as declared in verse six but, humble and willing ministers who are motivated to fulfill the will of God, are cornerstones in the body of Christ. They can be relied upon. They do what needs to be done to build that magnificent glorious and divine building which is the spiritual house of God, the church, or the body of Christ. To be a cornerstone means that you allow God to put you where He needs you. You have unique abilities that are needed somewhere in this glorious building. And you can only be used as a cornerstone if you are willing to do the will of God. You must have the right attitude and that is all. God does not need anything else. He needs a good attitude and then He empowers the person with such an attitude with his power, his ability, and his authority.
Can you do this? Will you be able to do this?
25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, “Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.”
26 “But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;”
27 “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:”
28 “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
As soon as these ministers of God realize what is needed to advance the kingdom of God, they change their views about many activities in the church. As soon as they understand that the only way that they can be obedient to Christ, is to fulfill the great commission, they accept the fact that they must change their methods and their priorities. They understand that nothing can replace the great commission. They understand that the instructions of Christ were clear and cannot be misunderstood. We are supposed to make new converts. We are supposed to teach them how to follow Christ by teaching them everything that He taught the early church.
They understand that it means that they will have to follow the examples of Jesus Christ and the apostles. They will have to take up the towel and they will have to wash the feet of those that they serve. They will have to become servants.
We as church leaders will have to lead by example. We will have to practically show the members of the congregation how to fulfill the great commission. We cannot teach them through theoretical knowledge. We will have to go out with them and show them the work of the ministry. God is currently busy raising ministers who are willing to go out and teach people what the great commission entails. Right there in their communities. This is what Jannie van Zyl says about these ministers:
Through his Spirit, God is currently busy raising men and women who do not follow their own programs and their own wisdom. In their hearts they cherish what is in God’s heart. They are not ambitious at all. They are saturated with a divine and heavenly vision. They are conquerors because they follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. They do not follow old methods and old programs. They keep their eyes on Christ. They follow his instructions.
– Jannie van Zyl
Their vision changed from program-driven to relationship-driven. They know that it is the personal input through deeds and through actions that change people. Not the sermon only. A good sermon is followed up by practical training. A good sermon is followed up by putting into practice what was taught theoretically. By spending that extra time with people, these ministers have a tremendous impact on them. It makes them feel appreciated and loved. It is for this reason that these ministers treat other people with respect and esteem. They empower people through their actions and their attitudes and the way they treat them.
Look at this aspect the way that the members of the congregation experience it: For a few weeks they have heard their pastor or their minister teach them how to fulfill the great commission. They became very excited, and also a bit scared when he promised them that after the theoretical sessions, he will go out with them to show them how to fulfill the great commission practically. What a wonderful experience it will be when they experience their minister going out with them and teach them practically how to do the work of the ministry. By the way, in Session 2 and Session 3 we deal with these practical steps and strategies of the great commission. These sessions will equip and empower us all to teach and equip other people how to fulfill the great commission. It is quite easy to master and easy to empower others to do the same.
What a wonderful experience it will be for the members of the congregation to see and observe how their leaders implement methods and strategies that help and enable them to be obedient to God in this regard, not even mentioning how excited they will be to see how they help them to achieve their goals within the framework of their personal abilities and gifts. Just imagine how fulfilled these church members will be.
This is a reality. This is not just a dream. This will be the result if church leaders are willing to pursue these possibilities. It starts with you. You can change the lives of many people if you are willing to step out and put these strategies and methods in place. It means that church leaders will have to evaluate their current situations and strategies and methods. They will have to determine if their currents strategies really fulfill in the needs of the members of the congregation and if it addresses the instructions of Jesus Christ.
If it does not address the needs of people and if it does not empower people to fulfill the great commission, then these strategies and methods, and programs need to be changed or replaced with strategies and programs that do fulfill these needs and do empower the members of the congregation to fulfill the great commission. We have to be courageous in this regard. We have to stretch the boundaries a bit. Sometimes things that we thought would be impossible may suddenly become a reality. Things that were impossible in the past might suddenly be acceptable and can be implemented without any hassles. We should never stagnate and just accept things without pushing the boundaries a bit. If we don’t, we are not advancing but going backward. If there is no progress it does not mean that we are keeping the status quo. No, if there is no progress we are regressing. That is a fact.
In many cases, people do not advance because they are scared of the unknown. People do not want to advance because they are scared of failure. As children of the most high God, we are not supposed to fear anything in life. We need to go out and fulfill the great commission fearlessly. In Luke 10:17-19, Jesus has sent the seventy out on an outreach. When they returned they were very excited. Just pay attention to what they said and what Jesus promised them:
17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
18 And he said unto them, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.”
19 “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”
Isn’t this wonderful? Jesus said that when we go out to fulfill the great commission, nothing shall by any means hurt us.
We need to make disciples and teach them all that Christ taught the early church. We need to teach them that Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit will be with them all the way.
Discipleship in the Christian sense is the process of making someone become like Christ. The disciple of Christ is to become like Christ in everything. The primary purpose of Jesus’ coming to the world was to establish the kingdom of God through his death. Christians have to be taught how to become like Christ because this will result in the great commission being fulfilled. When Christians do not fulfill the great commission yet, they are not yet like Christ.
In the world of the Bible, a disciple was a person who followed a teacher, or rabbi, or master, or philosopher. A disciple is first a believer who has exercised faith. This means they have experienced conversion and put Jesus at the center of their life.
Discipleship encompasses all the services we provide for the new convert in the early stages of his Christian life to retain him in the faith. Discipleship is just as important as the very act of preaching to win souls.
Discipleship is much like exercise. It is so beneficial that the benefit alone is enough to make it attractive to us. Many church leaders are under the impression that new converts are completely like natural babies and that they are not of any use because of that. Of course, new converts are like babies in the kingdom of God but do not be misled by this fact. If they are incorporated into the great commission program of the church immediately, they can be teenagers in a month and completely capable to carry out the great commission within three months. This is a fact. I am not exaggerating.
However, discipleship can only be done effectively when new converts are introduced to the work of the ministry immediately. They need to be incorporated in the church programs and evangelical outreaches immediately and correctly. As I said, Session 2 and Session 3 explain exactly how to do this correctly.
This is what “SalvationCall” says about discipleship:
Do mothers care for their babies for nothing? After years spent feeding them, cleaning them, protecting them, and spending on them, they grow to become healthy and strong adults, capable of taking care of themselves. Discipleship should produce the same results. After the time spent taking the new convert through discipleship, the new convert should grow spiritually to become a mature Christian, capable of managing his own spiritual life. The mature Christian is Spirit-filled; he has developed a daily prayer habit; he has developed a daily Bible study habit; he is victorious over trials and over the temptation to sin and he can face the difficult challenges that life brings his way. Therefore, one benefit of effective discipleship is the spiritual growth of the new convert.
Discipleship is supposed to be a solution to a problem. The problem is that some new converts do not hold on to Christianity for long; they backslide a few days, or a few weeks or a few months later. Therefore, discipleship which includes the services of helping the new convert to develop the habit of praying, studying the Bible, and fellow-shipping, is supposed to equip the new convert to have a foothold in the faith and not backslide again. In other words, discipleship helps to retain new converts in the faith and in the church.
Discipleship creates the opportunity for the new convert to socialize with other Christians. Initially, the only person the new convert knows in the church is the soul-winner and discipler. As part of discipleship, the soul-winner must introduce his new convert to the church so that other Christians will accept and welcome him as a brother and also show concern for his welfare.
During such times as mother’s day and father’ day, many are those who say a lot of wonderful things about their parents. This is due to the wonderful childhood experience they had with them. Their parents have done something in their lives that they would ever remember to their credit. Do you think such adults who have had good parental care would grow up to be bad fathers and bad mothers? Very unlikely. When the new convert is discipled effectively, this will make a lot of difference in his life. The new convert is likely to appreciate discipleship later on in his life and he will extend the good discipleship experience to other souls he will win.
Paul was the spiritual father of Timothy. Paul’s letters to Timothy suggested how proud he was about Timothy. It was Paul who converted Timothy, discipled him, and made him a pastor. It would put a smile on your face to see that a person you discipled has grown to become a staunch Christian. Your Christian life becomes rich and enjoyable when you impact others positively.
Discipleship helps in the spiritual growth of the soul-winner and discipler. In an attempt to disciple the new convert, the soul-winner would have to step up his games. Since he would have to teach the new convert the word of God, he would have to study all the more. Since he would have to help the new convert attend church services, he would have to attend church services regularly too. Since he would have to intercede for the new convert, he would have to extend his prayer time or pray regularly. By and large, all these lead to the spiritual growth of the soul-winner and discipler.
Discipleship is part of the big command ‘Go and make disciples of all nations’. Therefore, you are not doing the new convert a favor when you disciple him. Rather, you are obeying the command of your Lord and Master Jesus Christ. Since embarking on discipleship is an act of obedience, you open doors of reward and blessing to yourself, for the Bible says that our labor in the Lord is not in vain.
You earn the title of being the spiritual mother or father of other Christians. Paul was the spiritual father of Timothy because he made Timothy become the good Christian that he was. You are the spiritual father to the Christian you discipled to grow and remain in the Christian faith.
Discipleship sets the stage for the new convert to grow spiritually toward spiritual maturity to become a mature Christian. The church is better off when it is having spiritually growing or spiritually mature converts, for such converts understand their need for salvation; they would come to church without the ordeal of church leaders reminding them, begging them, convincing them and sometimes bribing them. Such mature converts are resourceful to the church; they are ready to contribute to running the affairs of the church, they make themselves available for evangelism programs intended to win more souls, and they are ready to partake in anything which is of interest to the church.
As part of its benefits, discipleship is a solution that prevents the new convert from backsliding and retain him in the church. Once the new convert remains in the church, he increases the church membership by one. If the church successfully disciple more new converts, its membership will grow over time, becoming a large church. Moreover, when you retain a new convert in the church, you have actually won and retained an entire family, for he, most likely, will impact the church membership positively by coming along with his wife, or husband, or children, and friends, making the church membership grow exponentially.
The heart desire of God has always been that the sinner should repent. Therefore, when the soul-winner leads an unbeliever to Christ, then takes him through discipleship and establishes him firmly in the faith and in the church, it is a great victory – a victory that moves God to rejoice. He rejoices because His heart’s desire has been met; His enemies have reduced by one and his children have increased by one. Benefits of Discipleship – discipleship, as in following Jesus Christ.
Discipleship also refers to the act of following Jesus – where Jesus becomes your Lord, Savior, Mentor, Teacher, and Master, and you are His disciple or follower. How? Having believed in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, if you live in obedience to His word, which is the teachings of the Bible, you are in discipleship and you are a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Disciples of Jesus give up their all to follow Jesus. In times past, they were persecuted in various ways; they were killed, arrested, tortured, beaten, and lynched, but that did not deter the disciples from following Jesus. So what were their benefits for following Jesus? The earliest twelve disciples, being rational as we are, were smart enough to ask Jesus of their benefit for risking their lives to follow Him. And Jesus answered them saying… Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
Today, we Christians are the disciples of Jesus Christ just like the twelve disciples of old. We became Christians or disciples through faith; that is, believing in Jesus and obeying His word. Now the teachings of Jesus and those of his earliest disciples, as recorded in the Bible, leave us with a lot of assurances of greater blessings here on this earth and hereafter.
First of all, anyone who came to follow Jesus Christ as a Christian and disciple was attracted by one very important thing which money or wealth cannot buy – salvation. Salvation is the state where God has forgiven you your sins, set you apart for good works, adopted you as His son, reconciled you to Himself, etc. Eventually, it is only those in discipleship who shall be saved. All those who once said the sinners prayer to accept Jesus, but refused to be true disciples by living in obedience to this word shall be counted among apostates and they shall not be saved.
Disciples of Jesus have hope beyond this earthly life. Jesus Christ attached the benefit of eternal life to discipleship when He promised His disciples of receiving eternal life in. Truly, every disciple will inherit this eternal life for he shall coexist with Jesus in a city that Jesus has built and partake in an everlasting blissful life void of sorrow, hunger, and death.
Apart from you, there are other people following Jesus as disciples or Christians. Some of them are young; some, old; some, women; and some, men. You and the other disciples belong together as one big family in Christ, and you are never lonely as a disciple. Now in the course of your discipleship, you will inevitably fellowship with them, and you will enjoy their company, for they will be mothers, brothers, and sisters, to you.
Through discipleship, you become a kinfolk of Jesus Christ, for Jesus deems His disciples as His kinfolks – the older women are His mothers, the younger women are His sisters, and the men are His brothers. Therefore, disciples of Jesus receive the blessings of being kinfolks of Jesus.
Moreover, the Bible is full of many other blessings and promises for discipleship than you could imagine. The disciple ought to believe in them to receive them. Here are a few:
You have access to Divine healing.
God hears and answers the disciple’s prayer.
God provides for the disciple.
The disciple has access to ‘rest for the soul’.
Disciples have access to know mysteries.
Disciples have access to spiritual blessings.
Disciples receive the Holy Spirit who is the Helper, Comforter
Disciples receive Divine protection.
Discipleship is of great importance because it is beneficial. For these reasons, we have to try as much as possible to take the new converts through discipleship.
Count it as a blessing that you have been called into discipleship, that is, to follow Jesus Christ, for the blessings in store for you are beyond your imagination.
Discipleship is all about developing and advancing the family of God. As a family, closely knit into one, we as church leaders and we as children of God should impact each other’s lives in love and in peace. This is what God expects from us all, and if we are not doing a good job, we should make the necessary changes. We should adapt and we should compromise in a Godly way. Paul did it and so should we.
Well, this is all for today. I am really looking forward to the next session. By looking at and comparing all the different ways and methods and strategies that different churches and missionaries have implemented through the years, when it comes to church planting, church growth, and expansion, and fulfilling the great commission, we have discovered one particular method that has proven to be extremely successful and Biblical as well. The early apostles used this method quite often. So next week we will be discussing this method in detail. It has the potential of expanding church membership tremendously.