Are We Making Disciples?

When Jesus walked the earth, he didn’t offer multiple paths to following him, each with varying levels of difficulty. He presented only one way—the narrow road. In a world where options abound, Jesus was unequivocal in his call to discipleship. He demanded radical commitment and unwavering devotion, leaving no room for bargaining or half-heartedness. In today’s landscape of Christianity, it’s crucial for pastors to echo this uncompromising call to discipleship.


Four Reasons for Discipleship-Based Churches

We must challenge the excuses, comparisons, and complacency that often hinder the pursuit of true discipleship. As we dive into this topic, let’s explore four reasons why discipleship-based churches are not just an option but a necessity.

1. The Command. The foundation of discipleship-based churches lies in the command of Jesus himself. In Matthew 28:18-20, commonly known as the Great Commission, Jesus instructs his followers to make disciples of
all nations. He didn’t say, “Make attendees” or “Build congregations.” No, he specifically called for the making of disciples. As pastors, it’s our duty to ensure that our churches align with this divine mandate, fostering an environment where true discipleship is the norm.

2. The Compassion. Compassion drives us to build discipleship-based churches. We live in a world where many who claim to follow Christ are falling short of God’s moral standards. Hebrews 3:13 reminds us of our responsibility to exhort one another daily to live a life that reflects our faith. The statistics paint a sobering picture, with only a small fraction of
Christians living distinct moral lives compared to unbelievers. True discipleship helps bridge this gap and empowers believers to live in alignment with God’s Word. If you truly love God’s people, you will love making them into disciples of Christ so they can overcome the sin in their lives.

3. The Congregation. Church growth is a common concern, but the methods employed can often miss the mark. It’s essential to recognize that a significant portion of church growth stems from believers changing churches rather than reaching the lost. Megachurches often sustain growth by attracting believers from smaller congregations and simply become “Mega-Messes” with no accountability or sustainable healthy spiritual growth in their attendees.

This reality raises a critical question: are our churches truly storming the Gates of Hell, as Jesus intended or are they on the sidelines? (Matthew 16:18) Discipleship-based churches not only foster spiritual growth, but also offer a compelling reason for believers to stay rooted in their faith communities. Your duty is not to keep a spiritual day care for adults who have not grown up in the things of God, but rather facilitate a boot camp for warriors to plunder hell and populate heaven—starting with their personal lives, then to their family, jobs, and communities.

4. The Culture. In a rapidly changing cultural landscape, the Christian church faces numerous challenges. While the influence of secularism, Islam, and various cults is growing, the Christian church is sometimes losing ground in the culture war, especially in the U.S. This shift necessitates a reevaluation of our approach to discipleship. We must equip believers to engage with and impact the culture positively.


Grounding Believers to Withstand Challenges

In 2 Thessalonians 2:11, Paul warns about deception, highlighting the importance of grounding believers in solid discipleship to withstand the challenges of a shifting cultural landscape. Do not take for granted that people attending your church will remain Christians. Atheists, perverted lifestyles, and various cults are pursuing them on social media with numerous attacks against the faith you teach. The answer is not to run and hide, but to teach your congregation how to lovingly tear down the arguments raised against the Bible and stand their ground! (2 Corinthians 10:4 and Ephesians 6:10-17)

The call to discipleship is not optional; it’s at the core of Jesus’s message and mission. As pastors, we bear the responsibility of guiding our congregations toward this high standard of commitment and devotion. We must be unwavering in our commitment to building discipleship-based churches.


Taking Up the Cross

In a world filled with choices and compromises, let us heed the words of our Lord in Matthew 16:24-26, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?”

The call to discipleship is a call to life, purpose, and eternal significance. It’s time for pastors to lead the way, to challenge excuses, and to create environments where true disciples of Christ are nurtured and equipped to impact the world for his glory.

Joe Wyrostek is a discipleship and evangelism church planter, author and professor. He currently oversees Metro Praise International church in Chicago. 


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