Hi again. John Cress here. I want to speak with you about the mission of our conference: “The Southern California Conference exists to exalt Christ by serving its diverse communities through networked and creatively engaged churches and schools.”
Today, I want to focus on one of our conference’s five objectives that enables us to accomplish our mission: that is “Discipleship and Leading Others to Christ.” One of our highest goals for our churches and schools is to develop disciples of Jesus Christ. We are committed to designing outward-focused churches who are engaging their communities and committed to the Gospel Commission.
So, we are asking, “What was Jesus’ pattern for making disciples?” In looking at the ministry of Jesus, it seems clear that Jesus took His disciples through four phases of development.
Phase #1 is “Come and See.”
When John the Baptist pointed to Jesus, saying “Behold the Lamb of God,” Andrew went to Jesus and asked, “Where do you live?” He was skeptical and not at all committed to Jesus.
At that moment, Jesus didn’t demand commitment from Andrew. He didn’t tell him that he needed to deny himself and take up the cross and follow Him. Jesus simply responded to Andrew’s inquiry and said, “Come and see” (John 1:39).
Jesus realized that He was responsible to create the desire in Andrew to want to become His follower. So, Jesus included Andrew in His friendships before ever asking for a commitment from him.
People today are looking for experiential proof of the Gospel. They want to see the results in the life of Christ followers before they are ready to hear the propositions of the gospel. Credibility and authenticity must precede commitment. So, the key of this first phase of disciple-making is building authentic relationships where we make the invitation, “Come and see.”
Phase #2 is “Come and Follow.”
One morning, according to Mark 1:17, Jesus said, “Come follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus knew He had created a desire in their hearts to commit. And Scripture tells us that “they immediately left their nets and followed Him.”
In this stage of disciple-making, Jesus called the disciples to follow Him so He could build into their lives the values, disciplines, and character essential to accomplishing eternally significant ministry. He modeled for them the disciplines of prayer, helped them discover clarity in Scripture, and demonstrated a relationship with God that led to obedience and commitment. For approximately 10 months, the disciples learned, by Jesus’ example and teaching, the values of the Kingdom and the lifestyle of a true disciple.
Phase #3 is “Come and Be.”
By this time, there was a multitude following Jesus, but He selected 12 men to “be with Him” (Mark 3:14). During this time, Jesus wanted the disciples to discover and to develop their God-given gifts and calling. He wanted them to find their place in God’s plan. They became apprentices in mission. Jesus invested them into the surrounding communities helping them find and fill their role in His Father’s mission.
There are members in our churches who are committed and ready to discover their Gifts and calling, but they need to be released to become apprentices in the mission of the Kingdom of God, in the Greater Los Angeles Metroplex.
Phase #4 is “Remain and Go.”
When it became time for His departure, Jesus washed His disciples’ feet demonstrating the character of a true leader. He talked to them about the vine and the branches. “Remain in Me,” He said, “and you will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). He reinforced the importance of maintaining the right relationship with God and following His pattern in building up people.
Then Jesus gave them their assignment: “Go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus was leaving the future of His church to His disciples, and He wanted them to realize that the purpose of the Church was to become a catalyst for the building up of the Kingdom of God. They were to repeat the pattern He had given them, to build people by making them disciples.
So here is the deal. It is not enough for the churches of the Southern California Conference to win converts and baptize new members; we must build disciples whose spiritual gifts are developed and are dedicated to carrying out the Great Commission.
Looking at this disciple-making pattern of Jesus, I believe we could define disciple-making in one sentence: “being a disciple and helping others to become disciples as part of the ongoing movement of spiritual friendship begun by Jesus Christ.” Let me say that again: “being a disciple and helping others to become disciples as part of the ongoing movement of spiritual friendship begun by Jesus Christ.”
For too long, we have conditioned people to believe that a disciple is one who faithfully participates in certain church events or holds some church office, rather than one who reflects the character, values, and lifestyle of Christ.
And here is why that matters. When we define a disciple as one who is faithful to our events, then we get spectators. But when we define a disciple as one who is a learner and follower of Christ who reflects His values and character and is actively seeking to reproduce that pattern in others, we build disciples.
You can comment below and let us know what you’re thinking about this message. Thank you for joining us today, and don’t forget to like and subscribe. God bless you as you take your journey to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.