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Commitments to Discipleship

 Recently we had David Watson, CityTeam’s Vice-President and international trainer, who shared with Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary how God is moving among the most unreached parts of the world, and most of that without foreign leadership.  A major change is taking place in tactics and strategies of laborers serving in the cutting edge of the gospel advance in restricted and resistant areas.  The following is a seven-fold strategy shift in ministry priorities as described in Miraculous Movements by Jerry Trousdale :

1.    Make Intercessory prayer the highest priority.

Prayer has become so perfunctory and superficial that one wonders if God is listening; however, our prayer attitudes shout how little we really depend on Him.  With unlimited finances and technology we ask for little beyond God’s blessing on our plans.  Amazing things happen when serious and specific intercessory prayer is depended upon as the only recourse for dramatic changes in lives, dangerous situations, or impossible needs. Few churches pray for devoted disciples to be raised up among specific unevangelized people groups or tribes. Do we believe Jesus meant it when He declared Matt 24:14?

2.    Make disciples who make disciples

Jesus told us to make disciples (Matt 28:19), not just converts, which requires much more time and close relationships. A quick prayer and a dip in the water is hardly what Jesus had in mind. It took the omnipotent God-Man several years to make a handful of disciples (est. 120-150), yet at best we attempt discipleship by a few scattered instructional meetings, not a relationship, and then leave the “student” on his own.  Most believers become apathetic or worse with this system, yet we blame everything but our shallow commitment to the new believer.  Jesus challenged and contributed to the disciple’s lives everyday. They later practiced the same method.

3.    Invest time in the right person to disciple

As in business the 80/20 Pareto principle is close to reality. Contemporary education thinks everyone can become great leaders by taking a course.  Attracting people to the gospel gains superficial fans that quickly fade when a commitment to sacrifice time, resources or one’s life is required. Jesus taught to find the right person that God has prepared in advance (Matt 10; Luke 10), then devote yourself to just him, not going to the masses.

4.    Don’t tell disciples what to believe and do.

Let people discover for themselves truths and commands to take seriously. Obedience to easy to understand commands is more essential than any in-depth instruction in the “deeper” things of God.

5.    Never settle for revealing just one dimension of Jesus’ life.

Christian compassion ministries tend to minimize evangelism and church planting to maintain their presence in restricted countries. The balance of compassion and clear evangelism is rare. Jesus never separated the two focuses.

6.    Never substitute knowledge about God for an obedience-based relationship with God.

The church institutions typically are good at giving information about the Bible but little focuse on obedience to specific commands in Scriptures.  Many suggest this is the reason why lifestyles of believers are little different from unbelievers. Jesus always spoke of pleasing God by obedience, not by “correct” knowledge.

7.    Understand that Jesus does impossible things through the most ordinary people.

Though we claim to value the “priesthood of all believers,” we require advanced degrees and training for virtually any ministry.  Jesus picked ordinary people without credentials, and after intensive investment in their lives expected them to launch a global ministry, risking everything to fulfill Jesus’ mandate. “Disciple-making is a mandate for every Christian and, when it is done well, it often facilitates the planting of a church… a “simple church,” regularly meeting to discover God’s will together and obeying it.”  Where did this plan go wrong?

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