Pastor's Pondering


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What Does Making Disciples Look Like?

by Duane Mabee on July 11, 2019
In the Great Commission, Jesus told us to make disciples.  That is our key responsibility.  So, what does “making disciples” look like?  Too often we answer that question with some sort of information transfer and that’s where we stop.  Our Sunday school classes, youth groups, adult Bible studies are structured to teach people the information of the Bible. 


Information transfer is part of discipleship, but it isn’t all of discipleship.  In fact, it isn’t the primary goal of discipleship.  The primary goal is transformation.  In Galatians 4:19, Paul says it this way, “My dear children, for who I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.”  That’s the goal, the formation of Christ and His character in the hearts and lives of those we disciple. 


The transfer of information by itself will never accomplish that goal.  Dr. Michelle Anthony illustrates why.  I’m paraphrasing here.  She says, if disciples learn information exclusively, that alone is not transformation.  Think about the narrative of Noah and the flood.  How many days and nights did it rain?  We know… 40.  How many of each type of animal were on the ark?  Yep, 2 of each kind.  If you’re really good you know that there were 7 of for some species.  What kind of wood was the ark made of?  That’s right, gopher wood.  What is gopher wood anyway?  We have been taught the information about Noah and the ark, but I have never been in a service where people were giving their testimonies of a transformed life and somebody walked up to a microphone and said, “I just want to say that it was learning about the gopher wood that changed my life.” 


That may seem like a silly illustration, but we can turn the knowledge about Jesus and what He did for us into the same kind of memorized data without ever allowing it to transform our hearts and lives.  The goal of making disciples, however, is to help them transform by forming the image of Christ within their souls. 


If life transformation is going to be the goal of our disciple making programs here at North River, we need to think carefully about how to help people incorporate what they are learning into a vibrant relationship with Jesus.  But we need to start by making sure we are being transformed first, not just filled with information. 


Over the last couple of Sundays, I have given you some questions to ask yourself in an attempt to make sure you are being transformed by the information you are taking in.  Here’s a recap: What are you doing to invest in your own spiritual development?  When you learn something new, ask yourself if it is true and consistent with what you already know from the Bible?  How does it need to change you and what are you going to do about it?  Who can you share it with and how?  How might the Holy Spirit want to use it in relationship to your spiritual gifts?  How can this new insight help you grow to be more like Jesus?