My grandmother was an amazing cook and baker. She was able to make great-tasting food like no one on the face of the earth. Maybe this is just nostalgia, or maybe it is absolute fact. I’m not certain the good old days were as good as we make them to be, but there will always be room for nostalgic thoughts. What is sad about my grandmother’s cooking is when she passed away, so did many of her wonderful recipes. Yes, many of them are written down, but reading from a notecard and producing the exact results is not the same as walking the journey alongside the cook.
Reflecting on the loss of those amazing meals and desserts takes me back to the memories of family and special gatherings. It’s sad to see memories lost in the rush of life today. What saddens me more are the great principles and lessons God teaches His children that never make it past the memory stage. I am referring to the many times God teaches His followers a great truth from His Word and life situations, and these truths never get passed on to others. Often when a believer dies, so do wonderful lessons.
What if the disciples who sat under our Lord’s teaching for over three years had chosen to hold those truths and never share them? What if those truths had passed away with the deaths of those 12 men? What if they had not obeyed the command to make disciples? We can only speculate the answer. What we do know is that these men passed on the truths as they had been commanded. They did it so well that over 2000 years later, we are still discussing the great truths that were taught by our Savior. They then taught others who sought out faithful men, who in turn taught others (2 Timothy 2:2).
Having served in the pastoral ministry for over 25 years, I can say with a great deal of authority that the commission given to the disciples and passed on to the church has become the forgotten commission. Jesus’ last command to His disciples about ministry was to go into all the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). This command has often been called the Great Commission. The disciples knew exactly what was expected of them and were willing to die to obey the command. Jesus explained clearly that they were to take the commandments He had taught them and make disciples. In other words, pass the teachings on while you still can.
I see no reason to believe that the command originally given to these 12 men has been fulfilled or rescinded. The command to make disciples is just as relevant today as it was when it was given to the 12 disciples. We know that it is still valid because the church understood it as a mandate (2 Timothy 2:2). Paul told Timothy to do exactly what our Lord told His disciples—find others to teach the truths that you have been taught. Yet today I find very few churches who have an intentional disciple-making ministry and very few pastors who are involved in personal disciplemaking. It has truly become the forgotten commission.
Paul also reminds the church leaders to “equip the saints” so they can do the work of the ministry. Too many pastors believe they need to do all the work of the ministry, but it is clear that our main objective is not doing ministry, but training others to do ministry. As pastors, we are the most gifted leaders in the church, and we need to exponentially duplicate ourselves for the cause of Christ.
Disciple-making has been an absolute joy of our ministry, and we hope to be able to encourage you in the paths ahead. It has been the greatest part of our church growth because it has not only produced numerical growth, but also spiritual depth. I look forward to discussing this further with you.
At Mount Airy Bible Church (MABC), we have been making disciples for over 25 years, and the fruit is a lasting fruit. As Dr. Norman Geisler writes in the forward of my book, “…after speaking in twenty-five countries and fifty states for the last fifty years, I have finally found the solution to this lack of discipleship crisis in the Church.” This solution, he says, is what God has given to us at MABC. The book, CHRIST WILL BUILD HIS CHURCH—But What is My Role?, lays out in practical, helpful terms the mandate of discipleship. You can obtain a copy by contacting the church via email at[email protected] or I personally can be reached at [email protected].