Go Make Disciples? Who? Me?

How can I do that? I’m not a pastor, a preacher or an evangelist! I don’t have the training and I can’t afford the time or money to go to seminary. Why can’t I just be a member of the church and give my tithes and offerings to support missions and missionaries? You can do that, but that is not what Jesus said to do. What you suggest has been adopted by the church as a viable alternative to what He told us to be doing, and it has seemed to fit nicely – except when it doesn’t.

God The Holy Spirit has equipped all believers with supernatural spritual gifts and appointed us to an office to exercise those gifts to serve, build up and edify the Church.

Look at this list of Spiritual Gifts and Offices. Can you find the Gift or Office The Holy Spirit has given you and appointed to you?

GIFTS                      MINISTRIES                  EFFECTS                     OFFICES

Romans 12             1 Corinthians 12         1 Corinthians 12:28       Ephesians 4:11

Prophecy               Word of wisdom            Apostle                        Apostle
Serving                  Word of knowledge       Prophet                       Prophet
Teaching                Faith                                Teacher                       Evangelist
Exhortation           Gifts of healing              Miracles                      Pastor
Giving                     Miracles                          Kinds of healing        Teacher
Overseer                Prophecy                         Helps
Mercy                     Distinguishing spirits   Administration
Tongues

It is through Spiritual Gifts that God empowers and enables us to serve Him and to serve His Church, which is His Body.  We are, as Christians, to serve the Lord and His Church.

Jesus created His Church, His Body, and made it so the whole Body fits together perfectly.  As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

The Holy Spirit guides us, convict us, defends us and empowers us.

Jesus transformed the practice and attitude of ‘going to church’. He also teaches about not allowing external things to convict or to defend us. We are to depend on and call upon the Holy Spirit for those things.  Jesus has told us that His laws are now written upon our hearts and in our consciences.

We must BE the Body of Christ, The Church, and behave as such, or we simply are not following Jesus.

Let’s take a quick detour and see how the church came to our current paraidgm of making disciples of all the nations, and helping the people to learn of Jesus, believing in Him, obeying His words, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe everything that He has commanded.

Our roots go back to the Jewish nation, the Israelites. The primary purpose of education among the Jews in Old Testament times was the learning of and obedience to the law of God, the Torah.

Primary ways of imparting religious knowledge to Jewish children were example, imitation, conversation and stories. Parents could utilize the interest aroused in their children by actual life observances such as Sabbath or Passover to teach about God.

Training in the Torah began very early. The father had an obligation to teach his children the Law by words and example. A child could observe his father binding the phylacteries on his arm and head. The natural question, “What are you doing?”, could be used to teach the child that it was everyone’s duty to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5 ).

When the son reached the age of twelve, the Jews believed his education in the Torah was complete enough to help him know the Law and keep it. He was then known as a “son of the Law.” As a symbol of this attainment, the father would fasten the phylacteries upon the arm and forehead of his son. The box placed on the forehead indicated that the laws must be memorized. The other box was placed on the left arm so that it would press against the heart when the arms were folded or the hands were clasped in prayer. The box pressed against the heart would symbolize that the laws were to be loved and obeyed.

The elementary school system among the Jews developed in connection with the synagogue. Even before the days of Jesus, schools for the young were located in practically every important Jewish community.

Boys usually began formal schooling at the “house of the book” at age five. He would spend at least a half day, six days a week for about five years, studying at the synagogue. Parents brought their son at daybreak and came for him at midday. While not at school the boy was usually learning a trade, such as farming or carpentry.

If a boy wanted training beyond that given in a synagogue, he would go to a scholarly scribe. Saul of Tarsus received such advanced theological training “at the feet of Gamaliel” in Jerusalem (Acts 22:3 ).

Jesus was also a trainer of teachers. He selected the twelve and taught them how to teach others. His last directive or commission made before He ascended to heaven was and still is, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually–regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.”

As risen Lord, Jesus commissioned his followers to carry their evangelism and teaching ministry into all the world (Matthew 28:19-20 ). As seen in Acts 2:42 , Acts 4:1-2; Acts 5:21 ,Acts 5:21,5:28 , teaching became an important work in the early church in Jerusalem.

The New Testament places importance on the teaching function of the church. Teaching is regarded as a primary function of the pastor (1 Timothy 3:2 ). Volunteer teachers are also important to the work of the church (James 3:1 ).

In New Testament times churches met in the homes of members and Christian teaching was done there (Romans 16:3-5 ).

While the synagogue school still existed, the home was still considered a primary place of education for children. Timothy is a notable example of a child who had been educated in the Scriptures in the home (2 Timothy 1:5 ).

Fast forward to the year 2023

The road to becoming a pastor in our current-day churches, typically begins after you have completed your secondary education training and all of your college undergraduate studies, have come to understand God’s calling, then the final step on the road to becoming a pastor begins by deciding to attend a seminary. Seminaries offer ministry degree programs, in addition to many other types of degree programs, that will properly educate and equip you to fulfill your calling.

At seminary, several ministerial degree programs focus on the practice of ministry and Christian leadership. Acceptance into these programs typically comes down to three main factors:

  • Faith and belief
  • Academic ability
  • Overall character

Commitment to your faith and belief is perhaps the most critical prerequisite to any seminary program. You may be asked to write essays and provide letters of recommendation regarding your faith during the application process. While the academic requirements will vary from seminary to seminary, most ask for a bachelor’s degree for admission to a master’s program and a master’s degree for admission to a doctoral program. While you don’t have to be at the top of your class, the seminary will need evidence of your ability to keep up with rigorous, graduate-level studies. Seminaries also consider your character, sometimes requiring a background check as part of your application.

The greatest failure of our ‘religious educational systems’ is that it pushes the perceived requirements for you to complete the Great Commission, as issued by Jesus, far beyond what He required. So, only a relative minority will ever elect to ‘fulfill the great commission’ since they incorrectly assume it is for the highly trained seminary graduate. The rest of us will go to church, give offerings to missionaries and missions efforts, but we do not go to the mission field, whether near or far.

Here is what Jesus said on this matter:  “When Jesus’ disciples had come together, they asked Him repeatedly, “Lord, are You at this time reestablishing the kingdom and restoring it to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.”  (Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth could be taken metaphorically to say, ‘in your home town, the cities and states around your locality, and even as far as the ends of the earth. But we do not go – not even across to the street.)

CALLED AND COMFORTABLE

Some do not feel ‘called’, others do not feel ‘comfortable’ with the whole thing of ‘witnessing Christ to other people’. So, a few will invite others to church services, a Christmas play, an Easter service or some other church program.

Training in the Great Commission is either being misdirected in this 21st Century church, lacking in direcdtion, or absent all-together for those who cannot or will not spend eight years in college and post graduate seminary studies.

BACK TO BASICS

Please consider JESUS’ MODEL OF MINISTRY and “THE CYCLE OF DISCIPLESHIP”

I.

Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

II.

Matthew 4:19 “And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

III.

Matthew 10:5, “Jesus sent These twelve out after instructing them: Verse 7. “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’Verse 8.  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. Verse 9. Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, Verse 10, or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support.”

IV.

Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

V.

Mark 16:15 “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Verse 16. “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. Verse 17. “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; Verse 18. they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

VI.

1 Corinthians 12:25 “so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. Verse 26. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Verse 27. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. Verse 28. And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.”

VII.

Ephesians 4:21, “Indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, Verse 23, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, Verse 24, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God. Verse 25. Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. Verse 26. BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, Verse 27, and do not give the devil an opportunity. Verse 28. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Verse 29. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as it is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Verse 30. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Verse 31. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Verse 32. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

 HERE ARE THE INSTRUCTIONS:

“WHOEVER CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD [in prayer] WILL BE SAVED.”

Romans 10:14, “But how will people call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how will they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher (messenger)? Verse 15. And how will they preach unless they are commissioned and sent [for that purpose]? Just as it is written and forever remains written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”  (Amplified version).

HERE IS THE EXAMPLE:

Matthew 4:17. “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent [change your inner self–your old way of thinking, regret past sins, live your life in a way that proves repentance; seek God’s purpose for your life], for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

(The First Disciples)

Verse 18. “As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He noticed two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Verse 19. And He said to them,Follow Me [as My disciples, accepting Me as your Master and Teacher and walking the same path of life that I walk], and I will make you fishers of men.” Verse 20. Immediately they left their nets and followed Him [becoming His disciples, believing and trusting in Him and following His example]. Verse 21. And going on [further] from there He noticed two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets; and He called them [to follow Him as His disciples]. Verse 22. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him [becoming His disciples, believing and trusting in Him and following His example].

Ministry in Galilee

Verse 23. “And He went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news (gospel) of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people [demonstrating and revealing that He was indeed the promised Messiah].

Verse 24. So the news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were sick, those suffering with various diseases and pains, those under the power of demons, and epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. Verse 25. Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and the other side of the Jordan.” (Amplified Version).

Footnote:  [a] 17 Jesus’ public ministry began at this time and He was preaching the same message John the Baptist had proclaimed.

Footnote:  [b] 19 The concept of “follow” can represent three separate possibilities: in the early stages of His ministry, (1) walking with Him physically (literally), that is, merely being in His presence regardless of personal belief or commitment, (2) accepting and identifying with the salvation He offered; and later on, (3) being identified with Him by being subject to the scorn and rejection of unbelievers because of personal belief and commitment to Him.

HERE WERE THE QUALIFICATIONS:

Acts 14:13. “Now when the men of the Sanhedrin (Jewish High Court) saw the confidence and boldness of Peter and John, and grasped the fact that they were uneducated and untrained, that is they had no formal religious training in the rabbinical schools, [i.e., ordinary men], they were astounded, and began to recognize that they had been with Jesus!”  (Amplified version).

Sadly, now-a-days, see these advertisements which are typical for pastoral positions, 2023.

        1. What a Strong Candidate Would Look Like: • Meets the Biblical qualifications of elder/overseer as set forth in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. • Demonstrates a growing Christlikeness in demeanor and character. Can articulate a clear sense of calling to pastoral ministry. • Has completed a full graduate seminary degree at an accredited                 institution or equivalent. A doctorate is preferred but not required. • Demonstrates a growing love for and devotion to his spouse and commitment to his family. • A person of integrity who ministry team members, as well as the church body, can respect and follow
        1. Requirements: The Candidate We seek a Senior Pastor who has been ordained by an accredited Protestant denomination, a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, and a Master of Divinity degree from a theological seminary or divinity school accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada. The candidate must also have served as a Senior or Associate Pastor and possess a Christian character and pastoral qualifications which are compatible with our Mission Statement. In addition, the candidate shall demonstrate the ability to meet the organizational and operational needs of the Church and provide for the spiritual welfare and well-being of the Church and the area. Benefits The Compensation package range of $100,000 to $130,000 based on experience

These are just for the few.

Should there be an ecclesiastical hierarchy in God’s Church? This question should remind us of a discussion between Jesus and the mother of James and John. She asked if her two sons could sit, one at His right side and one at His left side, when He became King.

Jesus replied that she did not know what she was asking. He said to them, “You will suffer as I will suffer. But the places at My right side and at My left side are not Mine to give. Whoever My Father says will have those places.” We should not aspire to seats of authority, honor or prestige. We are servants.

Let me finish, saying that I understand that organizational structure can be important. But scriptures tell us for just as the body is one and yet has many parts, and all the parts, though many, form [only] one body, so it is with Christ. For by one [Holy] Spirit we were all baptized into one body, [spiritually transformed–united together] whether Jews or Greeks (Gentiles), slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one [Holy] Spirit [since the same Holy Spirit fills each life].

We are told, [collectively], that we are Christ’s body, and individually [you are] members of it [each with his own special purpose and function]. So, God has appointed and placed in the church [for His own use]: first apostles [chosen by Christ], second prophets [those who foretell the future, those who speak a new message from God to the people], third teachers, then those who work miracles, then those with the gifts of healings, the helpers, the administrators, and speakers in various kinds of [unknown] tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire and strive for the greater gifts.”

And yet I will show you a still more excellent way [one of the choicest graces and the highest of them all: unselfish love].

Finally,  Jesus has told us, “This is My commandment, that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another, just as I have loved you. No one has greater love [nor stronger commitment] than to lay down his own life for his friends.”

You are my friends if you keep on doing what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you [My] friends, because I have revealed to you everything that I have heard from My Father.

You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name [as My representative] He may give to you. This [is what] I command you: that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another.

Now, let’s be like Jesus. If there is any encouragement and comfort in Christ [as there certainly is in abundance], if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship [that we share] in the Spirit, if [there is] any [great depth of] affection and compassion, make His joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love [toward one another], knit together in spirit, intent on one purpose [and living a life that reflects your faith and spreads the gospel–the good news regarding salvation through faith in Christ].

Let’s do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

For even “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

You are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A CONSECRATED NATION, A [special] PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were NOT A PEOPLE [at all], but now you are GOD’S PEOPLE; once you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.  For [as a believer] you have been called for this purpose. (See 1 Peter 2:9-10, 21).

No matter your Gifting, no matter your Office, regardless of your position in the Church, let each of us, according to our gifts, go, teach, train, equip, encourage, send, and keep going until He returns.

Your Brother and Friend,

Mike Young

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