A New Kind Of Disciple…

A disciple of Jesus…what does that mean? It goes much deeper than someone who “calls them self a Christian”. If we are disciples of Jesus we will DO what Jesus DID. He made disciples, and then told us to do so…so, if we claim to follow Him, we will go and make more disciples. That means we will also Baptize those new disciples into the kingdom of God. Below is a beautiful picture of this generational discipleship that’s hitting neighborhoods and campuses all over the country and world!

Zach & William live in our apartment complex. I met them soon after we moved in, and we have been in discipleship relationships since then. Zach’s roommate Kyle Baptized him tonight. Then, Zach Baptized a guy he’s been discipling named Jose, along with his other roommate William! This beautifully illustrates the call for disciples to make disciples as a normal part of the culture of following Jesus. Jose, who was Baptized by his discipler, now knows that he is to “do as his teacher did”. Since his discipler Baptized him, he is now empowered and released to go and do likewise; this will hopefully create a spiritual down line of disciples!  Zach & William are going to pursue Jesus with us in this apartment community and trust Jesus for a new church to birth from the Harvest as more disciples are made!

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We’re In St. Louis…

We are gathered in St. Louis with students from all over the country who have been through one of our Student CPx Training Experiences in the last two years. This gathering is specifically for students to minister to one another, be ministered to by elders, share stories, and be refreshed to be sent back out to make more disciples. We are feeling a real sense of family among all of the students, and are excited to continue to build with them…

One of the Arizona State University students recently led one of her friends to Christ about a month ago. She joined her student church, and came to the national gathering. She decided to get Baptized tonight with her “family” at the gathering!

We’ve had a wonderful time so far this weekend, and it’s not over yet. The students are feeling encouraged, and refreshed to go back to their campuses/lives with a new spirit and deep sense of love/affirmation from their Father in heaven.

There Must Be More…

I want to preface these thoughts to ensure that I cause no doubt in anyone’s mind regarding their salvation, or whether or not they are “really a Christian”. My thoughts below are merely an attempt to “raise the bar for what it means to be a disciple”. (Thank you Neil Cole) I am not passing judgment on anyone for these thoughts, because they apply to me as well. These are convictions that I have had personally, so if they challenge you, know that they challenged me first; they continue to challenge me daily.

There must be more to following Christ than reading my Bible, praying, and “going to church”…=)

I was thinking this morning about how much emphasis we put on certain things as Christians, but not on others. For the sake of keeping this short I will use the example that has been most evident in my life over the past few months, and what I notice as I speak with other believers…

If Jesus’ last command to His disciples when He left them with His Holy Spirit before going to sit at the right hand of the Father was to “Go and make disciples, Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”, then why is it that many of us as believers do not do so? Some of us may do 1/2 of this command: “Go make disciples”. However, if part of our disciple making process is not Baptizing those new disciples then are we really making disciples at all? I have to ask myself why it is that MOST people, MYSELF included (until much later in my journey), who claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ, have NEVER Baptized someone? This seems a bit crazy to me when I think about it. Jesus’ last command…how is it that when WE made our decision to follow Christ, and then got Baptized that we did not realize/were not released to GO AND DO LIKEWISE? Why is it that the moment I came up out of the water “in new life” that I did not realize the COMMAND of Jesus to go and do the same? (Many Christians that I have dialogued about this with not only do not realize that they are COMMANDED by Jesus to do this, but often think they are NOT ALLOWED to because they aren’t “ordained ministers”. Ouch.)

Basically, we have the majority of the Body of Christ in America, (again, myself included) who are neglecting to carry out a foundational command of Jesus that He imparts to ALL BELIEVERS. This is the command that released the disciples to launch the spread of the early Church by the empowering of the Holy Spirit. If we are not carrying out this command, each and every one of us, are we drastically SLOWING the rate at which the Gospel can go forth to the nations? (TO OUR NATION?)

PRAISE CHRIST THAT IT IS BEGINNING TO HAPPEN IN MANY PLACES, AND EXISTING CHURCHES…(GOTTA SHARE THE POSITIVE TOO!) In fact, I have been hearing beautiful stories of many communities of faith who have begun releasing lay-people in their congregations to start Baptizing new believers! Praise Christ! Dad’s Baptizing their daughters, etc. Beautiful.

A main point I wanted to bring up was that we spend more time, energy, and efforts on our own individual “walk with God” than we do on pursuing this basic command of Jesus. We put more emphasis on religious tasks, duties, and checklists that we think we must do to be a good Christian than we do on this very basic task of making disciples/Baptizing them. What if we focused as much emphasis on going out to make disciples, and baptize them as we do on reading our Bibles and praying? What if it was just as important a task, and expectation as a believer to Baptize new believers into the kingdom as it is to show up at church each week, or read our Bibles each day?

(Guys, I’m not saying we should not be reading our Bibles, and pursuing our individual intimate relationship with Christ. I’m simply asking why we put more emphasis on those things than we do on the growth and spread of the kingdom through new disciples being Baptized by ALL OF US.)

In case you were wondering how this got conjured up in my soul again: I spent the entire last week teaching a group of students about Simple Church Planting. I taught on Baptism briefly…and here is what happened:

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Above is Beth, one of the D.T.S. students who had made a verbal decision to follow Christ some time ago, but never followed the Lord in Baptism. Above are also students who had all made decisions for Christ, and followed Him in Baptism, but up until this point had never Baptized another. On Wednesday they Baptized their first, but NOT their last. One student said afterwards, “Now that I’ve done it before I can, and WILL do it again!”

I am anxiously awaiting your feedback, and hope that we can all move forward with a new fervor to obey the Great Commission…ALL of it.

Just Stop It…

We have been in Texas for two weeks. It has been crazy. I have SO much to process, and write about. For now I just want to share a brief nugget from a meeting I was in last week with a brilliant man named David Watson…

Nobody knows about David. He hasn’t written a bestseller, he doesn’t pastor a large church, his name doesn’t appear in newspapers and magazines (In the states anyway). He is wise, humble, bold, and God has used him in amazing ways. As a result of David’s training and mentor-ship there have been more than 100,000 churches planted all over the world. (God gave him a vision to plant 500,000 churches before he dies=) 6 million people have come to faith in Christ through these communities of faith, and discipleship training.

My friend Osei and I had the privilege of spending about 2.5 hours with David for lunch last week in Irving, Tx. We frantically took notes as he shared wisdom from his experiences. We asked questions, and discussed dreams and visions the entire time. I’ll never forget the way he answered a particular question I asked…I don’t even remember the question, but am realizing more and more everyday that his answer is actually the answer for MANY questions that a lot of us have been asking lately.

I’m about to share with you David’s answer, and then ask for you to think of the many questions that come to your mind that this question could be the answer to…

In response to a question from me David replied, “Aaron, stop working with, and worrying about Christians. JUST STOP IT. Focus on reaching the lost. Make disciples, and watch them multiply. Watch new churches start along the way. Don’t start churches with Christians, they bring too much baggage to the table, and you spend all your energy working through that baggage and lose sight of reaching the lost. Besides, new believers are full of passion, and excitement; they do not understand, or get distracted by all these issues that we Christians find ourselves wasting our time/energy on.”

Wow. I reflected back over the past year, and thought about how that answer could have saved me a lot of stress, pain, and heartache. Not to mention, produced a lot more fruit! (Please know that this is NOT an excuse to neglect the discipleship process that must take place with those of us who are ALREADY believers. David is simply referring to reaching the lost in a powerful way. He is a FIRM believer in the discipleship process. He is submitting that those of us with apostolic roles in the kingdom MUST start BEING apostolic by seeing new works started as disciples are made. Many of us plant churches with an original desire to “reach the lost, and spread the Gospel” but find ourselves five years in, running ourselves ragged trying to please the same group of Christians that we may not have even seen come to know the Lord; they were already Christians and joined us from somewhere else in pursuit of something that would “better meet their needs”.

What are some questions that you think this answer applies to? What are some areas of stress in your life that this statement breathes peace into?