I took the liberty of sitting in on a BCOM class yesterday morning called Evangelism, Discipleship, and Community. In this class I took extensive notes as Dr. Hartford taught the mix of new freshmen, seasoned sophomores, and returning seniors.
Everyone knows the commonly used missionary verse in Matthew 28:16-20,
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped 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.”
After Hartford had a student read this text he asked the crowd of aspiring missionaries, “What stands out to you in this passage?” Some people said this, others said that, but the answer he was looking for inevitably came when someone queryingly said, “go and make disciples?”
It was the topic of making disciples that he wanted to expound on.
The function of the church is to make disciples, but we have somehow and for some reason left discipleship sort of in the dust. Hartford lead us into seeing that the Great Commission was not to go and evangelize, but was to go and make disciples. Discipleship therefore must be the pinnacle of church purpose because churches are a result of missions. And missions is the result of Matthew 28:16-20.
Knowing now this call to make disciples and not just to evangelize shifts the thinking of a missions minded individual. What then does it look like when you go out to other countries? Perhaps it looks a little less like stump preaching or speaking engagements and a bit more like living a life of love, peace, brotherhood, truth, integrity, endurance, conviction, and so on.
Besides, what’s more impressive than talking the talk? Is it not walking the walk? People won’t always believe what you say, but they will always believe what you do.