I just finished reading the abridged version of “The Master Plan of Evangelism” by Dr. Robert E. Coleman. I would venture to say that it is a must read for believers. Every chapter left my head spinning. Most of the time my only response to what I had just read was prayer. It’s a book that has left me with a paradoxical speechlessness and discussions overflowing from my brain.
This book has placed two words within me that have been ringing through my ears in incessant amounts: “Make disciples”
I can’t seem to get away from it…not that I should. I sat in my church’s membership class this evening as “Make disciples” was proclaimed repeatedly as I jotted down notes and filled in blanks.
In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus commands us to “make disciples”. Jesus calls and commands all of His followers to make disciples of all people groups through the preaching of the gospel. It is not a request.
Jesus spent His days of ministry pouring His life into 12 men. He shared life with them. He taught them by His words, by His actions, and by simply modeling the life they each were intended to live. He showed them how to live.
“The method of Jesus here was more than a continuous sermon; it was an object lesson as well. This was the secret of his influence in teaching. he did not ask anyone to do or be anything that he had not demonstrated first in his own life, thereby not only proving its workability but also its relevance to his mission in life. And this he was able to do because he was constantly with his disciples. His training classes were never dismissed. Everything he said and did was a personal lesson in reality, and since the disciples were there to notice it, they were learning practically every moment of their waking day.” – Master Plan of Evangelism Abridged (pg. 77)
Perhaps unbeknownst to them, the disciples were being taught and trained and readied for what the Master had prepared for them…that is, their job of making disciples.
Jesus’ plan wasn’t to convert a million people to Himself then tell them to go convert another billion people to Himself. No, Jesus had a strategic plan to pour Himself into, reproduce Himself into 12 men. In turn, once prepared, these men would go out and each would disciple another “small group” who would in turn disciple another group, etc, etc. It was the Master plan.We did the math today in my class, and the amount of disciples that would come out of this at full fruition (let’s say, 30 years) would be astronomically high…we’re talking billions of disciple-making believers…we’re talking the entire world.
As I read through the book, I couldn’t help but think how obvious it all seemed to be…how much sense it all made. The idea of once someone becomes a believer, they are immediately taken in by a maturer Christian who disciples them, teaches them how to pray and study their Bibles, lives life with them in a way that models the character of Christ to the best of his/her ability, teaching them how to follow after Jesus and what that looks like lived out. Teach them how to share their faith so they in turn will share their faith with others who, by the grace of God, may become believers and be discipled…and the cycle continues.
I mean, doesn’t that just…make sense?
I can honestly say I have never been to a church who did anything remotely like this or even had the intentions of doing this until now.
“In our church culture today, the command to make disciples has been compromised. We are tempted to do everything except the one thing Jesus told us to do in the Great Commission. The church has substituted various programs, activities and endeavors for true discipleship.”- IMPACT participants guide.
The following is also from my class’ guide.
Jesus never told us to:
Start Sunday School.
Construct colleges, universities and seminaries.
Jesus did tell us to:
Make disciples in every part of the world.
Not that any of the above are bad things…if their sole intention is to make disciples in the sense that Jesus meant it.
“We have two options:
Self-directed strategies that hope for God’s blessing.
A Christ-directed strategy that is guaranteed God’s blessing”
I am struggling however. I have never been “discipled”. I never had anyone take me under her wing as a new believer and teach me and live life with me displaying a life led by a Godly woman. The book talks about how it would be a miracle for a new believer, without any discipleship, to remain in the faith. I think, by God’s grace alone, I am one of those miracles. Thinking back on my life, I am blown away by the fact that I have any desire to live for the Lord. There is absolutely no reason why I should but by the sovereign mercy and grace of God. It literally blows my mind.
I fear that since I have never been “discipled” that I would fail at discipling others. However, is this an irrational fear because of the Holy Spirit living within me who enables and empowers us to do great things for His glory? I hate to use the excuse or throw a poor pity party on the girl who never had a mentor, seeing that I always had a Bible that is filled with the teachings of the perfect sinless mentor.
I don’t want to cheat someone out of something “better”, someone with more knowledge or better “teaching skills” gleaned from being taught themselves.
So selfish really.
Our discipleship will be imperfect because we are imperfect. That’s the beauty of grace and the gospel. We are all inadequate, but, God is so adequate and He chooses to use inadequate people to make His Name glorious to the ends of the earth. We just have to be obedient and follow Him.
“We are not living primarily for the present. Our satisfaction is in knowing that in generations to come our witness for Christ will still be bearing fruit through them in an ever-widening cycle of reproduction to the ends of the earth and unto the end of time. The world is desperately seeking someone to follow. That they will follow someone is certain, but will that person be one who knows the way of Christ, or will he or she be one like themselves, leading them on only into greater darkness?
This is the decisive question of our plan of life. The relevance of all that we do waits on its verdict, and in turn, the destiny of the multitudes hangs in the balance.”– (pg. 121)
GO. Make disciples.
1 John 2:3-6