Missionary Guidance

Why is Discipleship Important for Missions?


Written by Madeline Peña

When Jesus came, the Great Commission had already begun. He went out, and then He made disciples. Jesus’ discipleship carried on, however, as His disciples kept making more disciples. Discipleship is so important to Jesus that it was included in His last command. Jesus instructed all of His disciples, including you, to fulfill the Great Commission. He instructed, 
“…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: 19-20 NIV).
The Great Commission was Jesus’ final command.  

Following Jesus

So, have you ever stopped to question what it means to “go and make disciples of all nations”? This command must fully sink into your heart if you are to be His disciple. As Jesus’ disciples, we must follow His command. Making disciples is crucial to the Great Commission. With every disciple committed to Jesus, more and more come to Him. But to make disciples of the nations, we must first go.

So who will go?

The life of missions is one of action. To be a missionary is to leaves one’s own land and culture to advance the Gospel. Our post on the term “missionary” and what “missions” means can be found here.

The missionary is the one who “goes,” testifying Christ to the unbeliever; therefore allowing disciples to be born. The Holy Spirit moves to make disciples.

So consider this; to be a missionary is to make disciples. We go to the nations, to bring others into a relationship with Jesus.  A disciple chooses to lay down their own life for Jesus Christ. 
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 ESV). 
Choose eternal life, which is from Christ. In this earthly life, we must not submit to the fleshly desires, but we must live by faith in Jesus Christ. In this way of living as a disciple, we present ourselves as a living sacrifice, just as Jesus was a sacrifice.  As a living sacrifice, we lay down our lives, to fulfill what Christ has called us to; the Great Commission. Now that we understand the important relationship between missions and discipleship, let us go into a deeper understanding of discipleship within missions.

Discipleship and Missions  

These are Jesus’ own words“…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...’  (Matthew 28: 19-20 NIV). There is a clear connection between the “go-ing” and the “discipling.” Discipleship has its own unique features in missions, such as the aspect of culture. Culture can be a hindrance or an advantage in missions. As a missionary, we should strive to create disciples, even in a foreign culture. It is what Jesus has called us to do. When a missionary is teaching new disciples, they must contextualize the Gospel. This means to present the Gospel with cultural relevancy. The message of the Gospel cannot be combined with other religions, because Jesus reigns over the false religions. He commanded us to transform the nations with the Gospel. As a disciple, we are following the commands of Jesus. If we are following His commands, we should be fulfilling the Great Commission by discipling others. Huge impacts are made if we are discipling correctly. The impact is exponential. The more disciples made, the more they will make, creating more and more followers of Jesus. We are sent by Jesus to all nations; to go into the nations and make disciples of the people. If you want to follow Jesus’ command well, then you must understand what it means to “make disciples.” Do not let this mislead you. Discipleship in missions is not a matter of conversion, it is a matter of a true heart following after Jesus. And what disciple wouldn’t want to follow Him whole-heartedly?

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