When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing 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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. | Matthew 28:17-20
The verses above comprise God’s missional playbook, from Heaven, for every church. There is no question about our marching orders. Many times we complicate what God has sent us to do, but here is a simple breakdown of discipleship. God’s Spirit and grace are essential; without Jesus we can do nothing. (Jn. 15:5) But here are some practical things that can help you to obey Jesus in making disciples.
Go- This command means we are sent. Tell your story, how Jesus found you, what he did for you. What made you follow him? Why should the person listening to your story turn from their sin to follow him? Keep it real and keep it simple. Your story is not the gospel but it absolutely is evidence of the gospel. Always be ready to give an answer for why you live with such hope. (1 Pet. 3:15)
Make- To ‘make’ implies a process. My wife and I like to watch car shows that take rusty classic cars and they take them through this process of restoration that revives what was once dead. Discipleship is the process of restoring what God intended for a person’s life, and brings glory to the one who made them. It’s the transformational process of a broken life being restored by God through his people, His hands and feet, the body of Christ.
Baptize- Baptism is an external expression of an inward reality. Baptism is a beautiful picture of our past sinful, broken life being left in the grave in our immersion. And it’s a symbol of our new resurrected life united with Christ as we emerge from the water. It’s a public declaration that serves as a testimony on behalf of the person baptized and the Lord. It’s a billboard for the gospel to a lost and dying world. A celebration of new life meant to draw sinners toward the light, joy, and freedom that can only be found in the gospel.
Teach- Learning consists of unlearning. People who are saved have been brought out of darkness into his marvelous light. There is a transition that is happening that requires help from others who have also been through the process. This includes essentials like prayer, worship, Bible intake, and community. But, there is another level of maturity that includes killing sin, soul-care, sound doctrine, and servanthood. And having someone to teach makes the process possible. Devotion to Jesus drives obedience but this must be modeled in order to be learned. This separates disciples from mere followers.
I am with you- God’s presence is the primary weapon against fear. Jesus himself promises to be with us all the way to the end. Whether it’s the fear of people’s response or fear of failure, Jesus stands by you to help you, protect you, and empower you to speak up. Remember this is Jesus’s mission and we have been commissioned, which means we have been called to join him to seek and save the lost. We have been invited to join the God of all creation, do you really want to sit on the stands and watch?! We have the Bible as our playbook, God the Father is our head coach, Jesus is our MVP, and the Holy Spirit empowering us to win. It’s your turn to get in the game.
Though what is required may be simple, it does not mean that discipling people is simple. Just like sanctification, discipling takes time. But we can know that, with the Holy Spirit guiding us with the words he gives, we are equipped to do as Jesus says.