What is a disciple-making church?

17 April 2013


You can quickly get a debate going among Christians by asking, ‘what is the mission of the church?’

To preach the gospel? To plant churches? To help the poor? To reform society?
Last Sunday we looked at Matthew 28.18-20, where Jesus famously gives the ‘great commission’ to make disciples of all nations. It’s crucial to spend time reflecting on what this really means:

To be a ‘disciple’ of Jesus is to be his apprentice, his learner. This is a radical apprenticeship though; elsewhere Jesus says that if anyone would be his disciple he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow him (‘Come and die’, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer summarised). Firstly then, discipleship begins at conversion but continues for all of life; it’s a lifelong pursuit.

Discipleship also concerns all of life; Jesus calls his disciples to ‘obey all that I have commanded’. Far from being a mere ‘spiritual guru’, Jesus’ teaching concerns all of life. Jesus’ ‘teaching’ is nothing less than the whole Bible; not only the gospels, but the New Testament epistles (which were written by Jesus’ apostles, his ‘sent ones’, under his authority and guided by the Holy Spirit) and the Old Testament (which Jesus repeatedly and consistently upheld, interpreted and defended).

Listen to the audio for more on what discipleship is, how it happens primarily by God’s Word and in community, and how disciples make disciples ‘as they go’. Jesus is made famous, loved, and followed as ‘everyday Christians live everyday lives with gospel intentionality’ (Steve Timmis’ famous phrase).

This blog post was written by Dan Martin.