By Shannon Youell
“If you make churches, you will rarely get disciples; but if you make disciples you will always get churches.”
We’ve written about this several times. And we’ll likely write about it again. Jesus commissioned His disciples to make disciples and those disciples would then commission their disciples to make disciples.
But it is hard work! And it’s work one must be invested in for years. For life! In our cultural milieu of result-oriented goals favouring immediate returns and strategically minimizing risk, is it any wonder that discipleship has taken a firm back seat? Often the returns are years in the making and require persistent perseverance. Discipleship as modeled by Jesus is risky business that includes minimal returns, slow growth inclines, sudden declines and sellouts along the way.
Yet, the fruit, oh, the fruit of perseverance! The fruit of investing deeply and walking intimately with others as we learn and grow and lean in, is so worth the labour, the frustration and the wait.
Dhati Lewis, Lead Pastor of Blueprint Church in Atlanta, writes about the “guardrails” the Apostle Paul offers to Timothy in regard to continuing on in making disciples. He talks about these guardrails to remind us that the work is laborious and long, but is the work we are called to. The guardrails keep us from going off the road in our quest to grow and develop our churches faster and bigger. When we lose sight of our commission of making disciples, we find we have church, but few disciples to engage in the work of the kingdom.
Now ask the honest and the hard questions. If what we are labouring in isn’t making disciples who make disciples, what indeed are we making? How is that working for us as believers? For our neighbourhoods? For the world God so loves and desires to draw back to His kingdom Shalom, where humans flourish in body, mind, and spirit?