Discipleship has once again become a buzz word in Christian circles and there are many books and resources out there that help church leaders embed discipleship into their churches so that church-goers can develop their relationship with God and live out their faith.
But what’s concerning is how few resources exist to help support new Christians who’ve made the decision to follow Jesus for the first time. New Christians face some unique challenges as they start the journey from making an initial response to the Gospel to becoming a committed disciple of Jesus. And this is the focus of this booklet.
Over the last 20 years, it’s been my privilege to come alongside churches thinking through evangelism and discipleship, and help lead churches that want to see people come to faith. I have spent much time and energy helping local churches to connect with their communities in meaningful ways and think through how we present the Gospel effectively. But when a response is made, I often find we’re not sure how to help a new Christian transition to become a disciple.
‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.’ (Matthew 28:19)
We are so familiar with this verse where the disciples are commissioned to take the Gospel to the nations. These words contain such clarity of vision. And vision helps us focus our lives, our time and energy and the direction of our local churches. It helps work out what is important so we don’t waste the resources God has given us. And yet it is so easy to drift!
The vision is to make disciples. Disciples of all nations who are physically baptised as an outward symbol of this new life. And we are to teach them to obey everything Jesus has commanded. Everything. Even the challenging, culturally awkward bits. It’s a clear vision. But it’s also very challenging. And sometimes we can become so familiar with these words that we fail to comprehend just how clear and challenging they are. Have you ever closed your eyes and pictured yourself as one of the disciples? Gathered on a mountain top, looking around at your friends, as Jesus looks into your eyes and gives you this challenge. It’s like dynamite.