The Optional Commission?

by Shannon Youell

In Eugene Peterson’s The Message, the Great Commission reads:

…Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold names: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you…

So often, as Christians, we focus on the perceived “don’ts” of following Christ rather than pressing into the “do’s”. Here is a direct commandment that for whatever reason has become quite optional. Like buying the basic model of a car and turning down the options because they are too costly; you still get the car and it still gets you to your destination, but when the car doesn’t perform the way you expected, doesn’t make you feel something every time you drive it, you can’t really blame the dealer if he told you about the whole package and you opted out of it.

Discipleship is intentional, experiential, intense, accountable, stretching and involves our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. Intentional communities, devoted to discipling people who then disciple people, who then disciple people, emulates Jesus’ model: in today’s language we might call it apprenticeship. Journey-people don’t tell apprentices how to be plumbers or electricians or chefs. They have them walk alongside them and learn from how they live their vocation.

When I read about the Early Church, I see them gathering together to build up, encourage, admonish, teach, pray for one another and the mission they are all on, equip and empower so that when they leave the gathering they are strengthened and encouraged to bring the presence and blessing of God’s Kingdom, God’s rule and reign into their everyday ordinary lives and the people that share those places with them in our everyday activities.

And here’s my thought on the Great Commission passage: Jesus said to first go and make disciples. Then baptize them.

It seems that the discipling, the apprenticing, the modeling of a life lived like Jesus happens while we interact with others. We share compassion, healing, mercy, joy, mourning and of course blessing with others and the way we do this exposes them to Christ. Then, when we introduce them to Jesus, they already recognize Him because they’ve seen him all along and he is familiar.

As people who love the Church and the things God loves and who desire to make impact in our neighborhoods, cities and nations, it may be time to shift from creating church to developing disciples who are church and take Christ to where those who don’t know the Hope of Glory live and work and play.

What do you think?

Watch this short video from Verge Network and let us know what you think about discipleship, or ask us how you might begin to develop a discipleship movement in your group.

This is Discipling from The Foursquare Church on Vimeo.


3 thoughts on “The Optional Commission?

  1. Hey Shannon,
    I came in this morning, and our administrator said I should read your blog post.
    That post was timely and something I was looking for and needing. I’ve forwarded it on to our Council for discussion. So glad to have you where you are!

  2. My two bits: Discipleship is about replication. If you aren’t actually a disciple, all you can replicate is whatever else you are.

    A discipleship movement in any church starts with a discipleship movement IN the church. Otherwise, as we’ve seen, we send out people with a new format or new language – who may or may not be disciples themselves – to go and make people who may or may not be disciples themselves.

    my second bit: the only reason the “great” commission is called the “great” commission is because once upon a time some dude, very very subsequent to the Gospel authorship, decided it was the most “instructionally complete” (i.e. has the easiest to follow “to-do list”) Commission. There are commissions in each of the 4 Gospels. What if a re-embrace of the Commission in John, for example, transformed our churches from “doing” to “being?”

    thanks for your awesome contribution to our churches!

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