If you attended the Annual Meeting a few weeks ago in Greensboro you are aware that our meeting included an emphasis on creating a disciple-making culture as a means to strengthen existing churches and reach the lost with the gospel. The new five-year strategy, “Impacting lostness through disciple-making,” is about pushing back spiritual darkness and reaching more than 5.8 million people in our state who do not know Jesus. We cannot impact lostness if we are not effectively making disciples. To be obedient to Acts 1:8 we must make disciples in our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.
Disciples recognize that their purpose in life is to glorify God and help others come to know Him. When we talk about creating a disciple-making culture we are referring to an environment, such as your church, Sunday School class, small group meetings or even one-on-one dialogue where believers are challenged and equipped to focus their lives on their call to love God and to love others – which then results in more followers of Christ.
Do you know the difference between converts and disciples? Would you like to learn more about changing converts into disciples? One resource I recommend for learning how your church can become a disciple-making church is the book entitled DiscipleShift. It is written by Jim Putnam and Bob Harrington and published by Zondervan.
This tool helps us understand that if we say we love God, but do not express that in love toward others, our lives are probably focused more on religion than on love. It is possible to do a lot of good for people by helping meet physical needs, yet often overlook the opportunity to share the gospel – which is why we are compelled to serve others.
Another resource we use to help explain disciple-making is “Looking at Your Church in 3D.” This is a Christ-centered process to help you discover where you are in your efforts to make disciples, where God is leading your church, and the strategy and resources necessary to help you implement that strategy. Your convention staff is willing and ready to walk with your church through the entire “3D” process as you pray about how you can become more intentional in making disciples.
I also encourage you to read a column on the strategy page of our website (www.ncbaptist.org/strategy) from staff member Brian Upshaw about disciple-making. Brian encourages us not to view disciple-making as “merely religious activity” or just busy activity that fills our calendars. Brian’s question is a good one for us all to consider: “Are you busy investing in others for the sake of the gospel or are you just busy?”
Making disciples begins by building relationships and investing in the lives of people in your neighborhood and community. Who do you know who needs to know Jesus?
“And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)