For the next three weeks at Knollwood, we will be taking time to look at how we are disciples who make disciples of Jesus Christ by starting a sermon series called: "Pulpit. Table. Square.". But here's the question: What is a disciple? Or, how are they made? So I wanted to take some time to do that. In their book called the Vine Project, Colin Marshal and Tony Payne talk all about who is a disciple and what is discipleship. So, here we go:
What is a disciple?
A disciple is a forgiven sinner who is learning Christ in repentance and faith.
What is discipleship-making
Disciple-making is really about calling people to faith and hope in Jesus Christ in the midst of the world around us, with all its pressures. We want to be a church that is more focused on disciple-making. We want to be a community that understands more clearly why life is often hard, and what resources God has given us to grow in faith, hope, and love in the midst of the struggle. A disciple-making church is actually better able to handle the crisis and pressures of everyday life. We make disciples by the persevering proclamation of the Word of God by the people of God in prayerful dependence on the Spirit of God.
How do we make disciples and continue to be disciples?
Four “P” of discipleship taken from the Vine Project:
1. Proclamation of the Word of God.
God’s living and active Word is able to break through stony hearts and bring new life. Proclaiming God’s living and active Word from the pulpit, in a small group, over coffee with a friend, through a text message or email will not return to God without accomplishing His purposes. That is why pastors and their people need to know God’s Word and proclaim it and make it part of their everyday lives.
2. Prayerful dependence on the Spirit of God.
God is the one who brings growth and fruit to any ministry (1 Corinthians 3:6). As believers make progress in the Christian life, the Spirit of God is actively speaking through His Word, renewing our hearts, guaranteeing our future inheritance, transforming us, gifting us for ministry, and giving us boldness to speak His Word. As you make disciples, pray for them and rely on the Spirit to work in their hearts through His Word.
3. People are God’s fellow workers.
People are God’s fellow workers, The goal of every ministry we have at Knollwood should be as simple as seeking to help each person, wherever they happen to be, to come closer towards hearing the gospel and being transferred out of the domain of darkness into the kingdom; and then to press forward towards maturity in Christ in every aspect of their lives.
4. Persevering, step by step.
There’s a reason it is tempting to measure ministry pragmatically: it’s easier to count heads than patiently waiting for God’s Word to have an impact. And yet, our calling is patience: prayerful Word proclamation is to be done “in season and out of season” and “with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).
Growing people in the gospel is often a slow growth like gardening. Day-to-day, it might be hard to tell if a plant is growing, but over a long period of time, growth is obvious. Evangelism takes great patience as well. God works in people’s hearts with the gospel often months or years before they come to faith. Don’t let slowness discourage you, let it drive you to a prayerful dependence on God and patience that trusts God to bring growth.