HOW REAL DISCIPLES ARE MADE

November 20, 2012 — 5 Comments

Vince Antonucci has written a book with a fascinating title: I Became a Christian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt: Replacing Souvenir Religion With Authentic Spiritual Passion. Doesn’t the title alone make you want to read the book? I haven’t yet read it but I did read an article adapted from the book in an issue of Outreach magazine.

Vince begins the article by suggesting you imagine getting a phone call interrupting your third hour of TV for the evening. The person on the phone explains that the government has chosen you for a special task. “After several rounds of, “Very funny. Is that you Phil? Wait, is this Chris?” you finally come to believe this is truly a rep from a government agency and he needs an answer. Now.”

You quickly think about all the things you will have to give up for your country: “your specialty coffee on the way into work, forwarding e-mail stories to your friends during the morning work hours, the lunch debate between McDonald’s or Wendy’s. . . it’s a lot to give up.”

The conversation goes on: “You’re talking. . . like. . . special agent stuff?” “Yes,” the government rep on the other end of the line replies. Finally, you decide. “OK, I’ll do it. Sign me up. But, let me ask, the hotels I’ll be staying in when I’m on the road. . . they will have cable, right?”

Now Vince brings his little imaginary scene around to the point. How do you and I feel about the commitment we have just made? “Nervous and intimidated? Perhaps. Anxious and excited? Definitely. Bored? No way.”

Jesus chose us as his special agents. “Go into all the world and make disciples,” he charged. It’s not always an easy task. He never promised it would be. What it should never be is boring. Not if we take the challenge seriously.

Maybe that’s the problem for most Christians. We’ve in a rut! Church is boring. Our Christian walk is boring. We are like the church at Ephesus; we’ve lost and love we had for God at first (see Revelation 2:1-5). We are elevator music—or worse, funeral music. Plain vanilla. Respectable people. Middle class. We need some excitement in our lives—and serving on God’s team of special agents is the perfect way to get it.

We have come to expect so little from Christian disciples. Just pray the sinner’s prayer, get the church to dunk you or sprinkle you, and drop into church occasionally when you don’t have something more exciting to do.

When circumstances demanded it, Jesus prayed for people, taught them what he could in the allotted time, and sent them on their way. But this was not his preference. He invested most of his time with a small group of twelve men. These were the ones who went on to change the world.

Instead of trying to sell the masses on the benefits of Christianity, perhaps we should be following the example of our Lord who spent some time teaching and preaching, but much more time coaching and mentoring. This is how real disciples are made. This is how lives are regenerated and the world is transformed.

Dr. Gary Thompson

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I am a retired United Methodist pastor. I write adult curriculum for the United Methodist Church and have been doing so for over 10 years. My passion is helping the Christian Church more effectively fulfill its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ and to help individuals identify and fulfill their God-given personal mission.

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  • Lewis

    Do we believe it enough? If we did we would be singular in purpose- totally passionate. Lord open the eyes of our heart.

  • http://twitter.com/DrGaryT Gary Thompson

    You are so right, Lewis. Which raises the question, “How many of us REALLY believe it?

  • http://twitter.com/BobUgland Bob Ugland

    Thanks for these words, Dr. Thompson. Most of my life has been spent as a worship musician, producer and teacher but church happened through mentoring. Not pounding The Bible over the heads of mentees, not by just attending corporate worship services, but hanging out, loving on others through the gift of Encouragement that He Gave me.

    You’re right; this is how real Disciples are made. Do you believe we are in a true paradigm shift in and for The Kingdom?

    Peace,

  • DrGaryT

    Thanks, Bob, for your encouragement. I see positive signs that a disciple-making movement is gaining momentum. It remains to be seen whether or not it truly becomes a permanent paradigm shift or a temporary “fad,” just one more emphasis until something else catches people’s interest.