Defining Missional Communities Week 4: Disciples who make disciples

Defining-Missional-Communities_Milestone_Picture So today we come to the end of our 4 week series looking at what a missional community is, what defines a missional community and the practices that make up a missional community.

Over the last 4 weeks we have covered 3 of the 4 parts of the definition of a missional community. The definition that we have been using for missional community is: a missional community is a (extended) family of missionary servants who are disciples who make disciples.

We started with discussion about living like an extended family or the greek word found in the New Testament which would be Oikos.

We then talked about being missionaries and being sent into our world. We also talked about the missional concept of person of peace and recognizing who our person of peace was.

Last week we covered the concept and idea that we are also servants. That we are to wash the feet of our family, neighbors, friends, and even enemies.

Today we are covering the last part of the definition. We are going to talk about disciples who make disciples.

To do that we will be looking at what might be a pretty familiar passage of Scripture but we’ll also spend some time actually discussing what a disciple actually is, and also how we as Veritas, are going to seek to live out being disciples who make disciples.

So let’s first jump into the Scripture text this morning which is Matthew 28:16-20 and is what is sometimes called The Great Commission. “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.”

So here we see the last time that Jesus was going to be with his disciples. And as is the case when someone is going away (either passing from this world or moving away) Jesus gives them probably the most important thing that the disciples needed to remember. What he hoped to leave them with. The mission that would define their lives from this time on. The mission that would define every follower of Jesus since that time on that mountain, till today, and until he comes back to establish his Kingdom in fullness. So here Jesus is imparting the mission of the church. His disciples are sent out on a mission to do one thing: make disciples.

Jesus reminds them that all authority on heaven and earth was given to him. That he was and is in fact ruling and reigning over the world. NT Wright says this about this idea that Jesus is in fact ruling and reigning, “People get puzzled by the claim that Jesus is already ruling the world until they see what is in fact being said. The claim is not that the world is already completely as Jesus intends it to be. The claim is that he is working to take it from where it was- under the rule not only of death but of corruption, greed and every kind of wickedness and to bring it, by slow means and quick, under the rule of his life-giving love. And how is he doing this? Here is the shocking thing. Though us, his followers. The project only goes forward insofar as Jesus’ agents, the people he has commissioned, are taking it forward.” And so with that reminder that Jesus is in fact King Jesus and that he is ruling and reigning, he gives his decree, his mission for all who would seek to live under his rule and reign. That being to be a disciple and to make disciples.

We are sent out in mission to do one thing: Make disciples. Because ultimately, each church will be evaluated by only one thing- it’s disciples.

He says, “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.”

The call and mission to go and make disciples is totally based on the fact that Jesus is ruling and reigning. Because the first thing we see in this verse is the word therefore which means because I have all authority in heaven and on earth then you should go and make disciples.

But to be and make disciples means we need to know exactly what a disciple is and how to define a disciple. So let me ask you this question, “How would you define a disciple?”

(Spend a few minutes talking about a definition of a disciple)

So in the Bible the Greek word for disciple is the word mathetes which is used 268 times throughout Scripture. the word mathetes means learner or apprentice. So with the understanding of the greek word, I would define a disciple as someone who is intentionally choosing to learn from Jesus, in every area of life.

So the early disciples who were following Jesus were learning directly from the teacher. They were seeing him live the Kingdom life right in front of them. They were seeing what it meant to live like Jesus. They were hearing directly from Jesus. They were being covered in the dust of the rabbi so to speak.

But what about us. How do we learn what it means to be a disciple of Jesus when we aren’t literally walking around with him? When we aren’t literally hearing him speak and teach? And when we aren’t being covered in his dust because we are walking right behind him?

This is where I believe 2 Core Questions of discipleship come into play. If we want to be a disciple, if we want to make disciples we must wrestle with, and help others wrestle with these two simple (yet really difficult to articulate and do) questions. These 2 core questions of discipleship are:

1. What is Jesus saying to you?

2. What are you doing in response? (or what are you doing about it…which is the part that we often miss when we read this Scripture which calls us to make disciples and to teach them to obey everything that he has called us to.)

These two questions can drive us to be a disciple that makes disciples. You just “simply” answer these two questions as you go about your day and your weeks. And you also ask others that you are in relationship with. The key to being a disciple then is to be able to listen to Jesus through prayer, Bible Study, service, etc.. and then actually do what you hear him saying. You learn from him what it means to be a disciple. You look at how he lived his life and you seek to imitate it. And you obey and actually live it out in every area of life.

But there is a problem. All too often we take this text that we just looked at and we read it wrongly. We read it a few different ways. We read it that we are to make converts. We read it that we are to make Christians. We read it and talk about the need for evangelism. But this is not what is being said here. This text is only about making disciples of everyone you meet. And in reality the minute you meet someone, you begin to disciple them. But you see in Christendom, the church invented a definition of Christian that separated such multiplying discipleship from being a follower of Jesus. In essence what was being said was it was possible to be a Christian and not a follower of Jesus or a disciple. That people thought that there were two categories of people: 1. Christians. 2. Disciples. That too often, as Dallas Willard says, there are vampire Christians who want Jesus for his blood and nothing else. That they want to go to heaven when they die but they don’t want to actually do the obeying part, or again what Dallas Willard calls the Great Omission.

So properly understanding that this text is actually about making disciples who make disciples is only half the battle, if you will. The other half is figuring out how we make disciples that make disciples and how we actually live out together answering the 2 questions of discipleship.

But what does discipleship look like in missional community? What does it mean to live out of the 2 main questions of discipleship in our missional context? And what does the discipleship process look like within Veritas? That is where we will head a little bit right now and also in our discussion time.

In missional communities disciples are made and developed in 3 different ways.

1. Through life on life where is there is visibility and accessibility. This happens in small groups of 2-3 people in what is known in sociological terms as intimate space.

At Veritas we want to do life on life where there is visibility and accessibility through having “groups” of 2-3 people of the same gender in what we call LTG’s or Life Transformation groups. An LTG would meet at least 2x a month (or 1x a week if you can make it happen) and do 3 things: Hear & Obey, Repent & Believe, and Consider & Pray. There is a paper on the table there that spells out more about LTG’s. I would take one, begin to pray about who to be in an LTG with and grab 1 or 2 others and start meeting and then let me know you are meeting. Or if you want to be a part of an LTG and want to find others who are interested, you can ask me to help you partner with someone.

2. Disciples are made and developed in community where you can practice the one anothers of Scripture.

These one anothers happen best in groups of 4-12 or what is called in sociological terms as personal space. This for us at Veritas would be what I would call Community Groups that happen 3x a month with an UP and IN Rhythm. These communities groups will meet in homes for 3 weeks. 2 weeks of prayer, bible study, etc.. (probably including dinner together) and 1 week of IN- Community. Probably week 1 and 3 would be UP, and week 2 would be IN. So we are hoping to grow and multiply these community groups and believe we can probably start or continue with 2 groups in the fall. Laura, Grace, Shalom lead one group, and Kim and I are looking at starting another Community Group in the fall.

3. The last place where disciples are made and formed in missional communities are on mission where we learn how to proclaim the gospel and make disciples.

Mission best happens in groups of 20-70 or what is called in sociological terms as public space. This for us at Veritas would be Missional Community and would happen when all the Community Groups meet on the 4th week to do OUT together, when we gather on 5th Sundays, and during our 1st and 3rd Friday gatherings.

Alan Hirsch has it right when he says “the lack of discipleship undermines all else that we seek to do.” So how do we as Veritas, as a missional community better make disciples who make disciples? Let’s talk about how we can better make disciples and how we can put flesh to our ideas related to LTG’s, Community Groups, and Missional Communities.

1. What are your thoughts related to discipleship, discipleship in missional communities, and specifically discipleship within Veritas? How can Veritas help make disciples that make disciples?

2. What is Jesus saying to you and what are you going to do in response?