Make Disciples

wilowparkblog

“Our convention could be twice as large as it is today if we would have simply engaged the people we just baptized.” - Robby Gallaty[1]

Robby Gallaty, pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Tennessee, and president of our denomination’s Disciple Making Task Force, said the above quote at our annual convention in June.

The Task Force reviewed annual church profiles for the last 20 years. Those revealed an astounding number of baptisms - 7.1 million nationwide over two decades! However, as a whole, the total number in church attendance nationwide has declined by 20,000. That means the 7.1 million baptized were not integrated into the life of the church. Or to put it quite simply - they were never discipled. Gallaty posed some questions worth considering:

“Could it be that we have considered baptism to be the finish line and not the starting line?”

“Could it be that we have spent a lot of our time teaching people what they’re saved from, and we haven’t spent time teaching people what they’re saved for?”

In the Fall of 2016 I preached four sermons in a series called “What We Believe.” Those are now four beliefs I ask every new member of our church to affirm. One affirmation is “I have been biblically baptized,” meaning baptism after repentance & belief.

When I teach this to new members, I make this final point: Baptism is followed by discipleship. In Acts 2, the 3,000 new believers are the ones who “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42). They met in groups with other believers to learn the Word, read the Word, and pray the Word. That was the norm, perhaps because the earliest disciples took Jesus’ final words seriously.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19–20 ESV)

Robby Gallaty puts it this way: “Jesus’ final words need to be our first work.”

Let this be an encouragement and a challenge for us church. We don’t have astronomical numbers of baptisms with nothing to show for it. But we could definitely work to improve our efforts to make & mature disciples of Jesus. In the Fall I will preach and teach more about what that will look like at FBC Willow Park. Until that time, join me in praying for God to stir in our hearts a desire to grow as disciples, make disciples, and make disciple-makers.

“grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18)

- Pastor Jonathan

 [1] All quotes can be found at https://replicate.org/2018/06/21/baptism-must-lead-to-discipleship/ and the linked Baptist Press article..

Well Watered

As Spring turns into Summer, I’m always amazed at how a little water can make your lawn flourish. We recently had to fix one station of our sprinkler system, which was causing other ones to quit working. For a few weeks we watched our neighbors have to mow their bright green lawns, while ours still remained dormant. While it was nice to have a few extra weeks of not mowing, the grass was thirsty and needed the water to grow. Once we got it fixed, the color returned, bare spots thickened up, and it looks like we’ll be on the weekly mowing rotation.

In the Texas summer heat, a well watered lawn is pivotal for growth to remain steady. Summertime can be a “dry” season for us spiritually too. During the summer your schedule is different; you may travel for vacation or to see family. Therefore, it’s pivotal for you to remain well watered for steady spiritual growth.

Primarily that means reading the Word. It is those who “delight in the LORD’s instruction” that are “like trees planted by streams of water” with unwithered leaves (Psalm 1:1-3).

Additionally, God has provided teachers whom He uses to water our souls. While Paul was correcting inappropriate attachments to certain leaders in the church at Corinth, there is a unique lesson to learn for our own personal growth in Jesus.

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.     (1 Corinthians 3:5–7 ESV)
Did you catch that? God gives growth through the teaching of His servants. Some of those who “water” the Gospel-seed in us are authors. In addition to the Bible, God uses - and has always used - books to grow His people. I’d like to suggest two books for summer reading to help you grow. I know God will use these to keep you well watered.
 
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Transformational Discipleship. This book focuses not on a model of discipleship, but more how growth happens in 
discipleship. Transformational growth happens at the intersection of truth given by a healthy leader when someone is in a vulnerable posture. It will open your eyes to see how & why certain moments were transformative in your own life, and how you can be used by God to do the same in others.pasted image 0 1
Love this book! | Available on Amazon.
 
What is the Mission of the Church. There are differing opinions in Christianity on what the church’s mission really is. DeYoung and Gilbert examine each text used to defend each position, and show how it all points to one correct answer for what the mission of the church really is: “to make disciples.” More theological in nature, but written for non-seminarians,this book is a must read (and one of my favorites). | Available on Amazon.
 
May God give you growth as you are watered by the teaching in these books.
- Pastor Jonathan
 
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