In Part 1, we observed that to avoid rogue and/or rigid missional communities, church leaders must clearly answer three questions:
- What is the role and function of the individual Christian?
- What is the role and function of local church elders?
- How do these roles and functions work together for the glory of God and the good of the body?
The Role of Every Christian: Make Disciples
Matthew 28:18-20: 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
The job of every Christian, everywhere, is to make disciples of Jesus. That is our commission. That is why we’re here. Making disciples is not for super-Christians or missionaries or “ministry professionals.” It’s for every Christian. Every Christian is to use the spiritual gifts God has given him or her to make disciples who make other disciples.
Making disciples is the most basic work of Christian ministry. Ephesians 4 calls it “the building up of the body of Christ,” and it requires “the proper working of each individual part” (Eph 4:16). The body grows – disciples are made – as each part of the body does its part for the building up of the body.
So every Christian in every missional community is to be participating in the task of making disciples. There are no spectators. This is not someone else’s job. We are a community on mission together. And the mission is making disciples.
This basic disciple-making work does not require special permission, special insight, or special skill. God has placed within each missional community the raw materials to make disciples, because the Holy Spirit has gifted each individual Christian with specific spiritual gifts for the good of the body. So as a small group of Christians come together on mission, they need to depend on the Spirit in prayer and identify and use the gifts the Spirit has given them.
This basic mindset is crucial to the health of a missional community. Unhealthy MC’s see it as the elders’ job to make disciples; as a result, the MC becomes little more than a social group to keep people connected to the church until someone else makes them into disciples. Healthy MC’s are gripped with the realization that 1) Jesus has commanded them to make disciples, 2) the Holy Spirit has gifted them to make disciples, and 3) they will answer to God for their faithfulness in making disciples. They view themselves as a vital disciple-making community and they expend every effort to faithfully accomplish that work. Their commitment to making disciples keeps them from rigidity. But the weight and importance of disciplemaking helps them honor biblical authority and avoid going rogue.