Go and
MAKE DISCIPLES of all nations

Discipleship Step Three: Commission

Usually when a church or individual think about going forth and winning others there is little thought with how the new individuals are to be grafted into the church. This often leads to disappointment with both the reception and the connection the new person makes with the new group. Although the new person may be doctrinally sound, they may soon become disconnected from the body, thus endangering their own spiritual health and depriving the church of much-needed blessings. Before the seed is planted, the ground of the church must be made more fertile through the working of the Holy Spirit.

The Challenge of Incorporation

One of the main challenges facing the New Testament church was the issue of how the new Gentile believers were to be incorporated into the long-standing heritage of the Jewish faith.

Through the leading of the Holy Spirit, the New Testament church began to open up its doors and hearts to those who had traditionally been excluded. The same work of the Spirit needs to be done in the church today.

Any good gardener that wants to be successful in growing plants understands that the ground must be prepared before the seeds are actually sown. In like manner, before going forth and sowing the gospel seed, the church needs to think through how the new members are going to be incorporated into the church.

While most soul-winners assume that everyone is as excited as they are with bringing in new members, experience has clearly shown that there are not a few within many churches who view outsiders as a subtle threat instead of a great treasure.

The first step in overcoming the challenge of incorporation is recognizing its presence in the church of today and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide a process of growth, just like it did in the New Testament church.

Good Fruit on the Inside

"If we would humble ourselves before God, and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful, there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one. But, though professing to be converted, we carry around with us a bundle of self that we regard as altogether too precious to be given up.

It is our privilege to lay this burden at the feet of Christ and in its place take the character and similitude of Christ. The Saviour is waiting for us to do this" (9T 189-190, Ellen G. White).

Often when we go forth to win new people, we have a bundle of proof texts in our hands in order to win others. While not denying the critical importance of the preaching and teaching of Biblical truth, an often overlooked dynamic in winning others is the simple but wonderful power of a loving and lovable person who has been positively nurtured and blessed by the truth they are seeking to present.

As the quotation on the left so eloquently points out, being "kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful" (that is to have the fruits of the Spirit exhibited in the life cf. Galations 5:22-23), is the key to vastly improving the soul winning potential of any congregation.

Christ made it clear, "you shall now them by their fruits" (7:20). Fruit is developed through communion with God which develops faith which produces the fruit which wins the world.

Good Gifts Towards the Outside

Acts 2:1-6 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.

3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.
6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

Paul makes it clear in 1Corinthians 14:22 that some gifts are a "sign" for believers and some gifts are a "sign" for unbelievers. While we have often administered spirtual gifts tests to good effect in churches, there has perhaps not been a clear understanding of some of the deeper New Testament teachings on this important work of the Holy Spirit.

On the day of Pentecost and in other important instances (cf Acts 10 and the household of Cornelius), the Holy Spirit gifted the church in such a way that attracted the attention of the non-believers in the proclamation and teaching of the gospel message. In effect, the giving of these gifts greatly aided in the incorporation of those outside of the discipleship community.

In our outreach programs, we must not only prepare the church to be loving for those who would come, but also pray that the Spirit will gift the church in such a way that the channel of conversion will be widended so that people will not only come to a program but be successfully incorporated into the worshipping community of faith.

The Making of Dynamic Disciples

Discipleship is the personal and corporate communion with God through the Word, prayer and worship in order to form a fruit-filled community of believers who fulfill the Great Commission through the Spirit-empowered release and incorporation of others.

True biblical discipleship envisions far more than going forth and the evangelization of those outside the household of faith. It is what Jesus did when He called and then trained a small group of committed followers who were then commissioned to go forth and reproduce the same deep communion and authentic community in the lives of the nations.

The discipling of the nations begins and flows out of our own disicpleship and those who will join with us in covenant relationshhip to spread the good news to the gospel.