Sometimes in the church we get so familiar with our language that we stop actually thinking about what it means. I try to be really careful not to catch myself talking to students about things like “full life” that Jesus came to bring (or a number of other ‘churchy‘ phrases) without making sure they understand what that is. I often wonder what other people really mean when they are talking about justification, or being saved, or getting saved, or living in the Spirit… Do they even know what they’re saying?
One of the phrases that gets thrown around a lot is “making disciples”. Most churches would, in some form or another, say that their mission/purpose/job/commission/vision (or a major part of it) is to make disciples. A church that would not say this (in some way) is ignoring Jesus, so probably is more of a club than a church anyway; and in a club you don’t have to know what you’re saying, just say it at the appropriate moment.
But for the actual church that is about making disciples, do we really know what we’re talking about when we tell each other to make disciples? Just how do you make a disciple?
Eugene Peterson’s Message paraphrases the Great Commission (Jesus’ command to go make disciples) like this: “Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
The question to answer then is what way of life are we supposed to train people to live in? How is it possible in the 21st Century to live the way of life that Jesus taught His disciples to live in the 1st Century? What does this ‘way of life’ look like in our context?