Don’t Make Christians; Make Disciples

Don’t Make Christians; Make Disciples

Go into All the World and Make Disciples

About two billion people in the world call themselves Christians, more than those who align themselves with any other religion. But how many will call themselves disciples of Jesus? The Bible never tells us to make Christians or even to be a Christian. But it talks a lot about disciples and discipleship.

Make Christians

For most people, at least in developed nations, becoming a Christian is easy. For many it involves saying a prayer. For others, going to church is all it takes. Some even look at their family tree as the only requirement for them to call themselves Christian. Other considerations that carry the Christian label might involve joining a church, checking off a box on a commitment card, or donating money.

With these things standing as the only prerequisite, being a Christian is simple and requires little effort. Churches smugly count members, attendance, or decisions. And that seems good enough for them.

Yet to mean something worthwhile, Christianity must be more than a trivial, one-time act. It must be a commitment to live a changed life that makes a difference.

That may be why Jesus told us to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).

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Make Disciples

A disciple is someone who follows and wants to be like their master, their Rabbi. It’s a total, all-in commitment to a different lifestyle.

Look at Jesus’s disciples. To start, they left their old life behind. Then they spent their time with him. They listened to his teaching and asked him questions. Later they told others about him and healed people in his name.

This was their training. Their prep. Then, just before he left Earth to return to heaven, Jesus told them to make disciples throughout the world.

First, they waited for Holy Spirit power. Then, when they told people about Jesus, thousands responded. The disciples continued to heal the hurting and help those in need. They taught people about Jesus and what it means to follow him and be his disciple. They formed the first churches, which are far different than today’s versions and which pale in contrast to the gatherings that Jesus’s disciples started. They ignited a spiritual movement that spread around the world.

This is what it means to be a disciple. Few Christians do this. It’s easy to be a Christian, but Jesus doesn’t want us to be Christians. He wants us to be disciples. As disciples we point people to him and make a difference in our world—a difference that matters, both here and into eternity.

Go and Make Disciples

Stop being a Christian and instead be a disciple maker. And it starts by becoming a disciple of Jesus ourselves.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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