In the Great Commission, Jesus commanded us to “make disciples of all nations.” For one thing, it is only through making disciples that the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations after which the end will come (Matthew 24:14). Therefore making disciples should take utmost priority for the Church during these Last Days before the return of the Messiah.
Today the predominant activity of the Church takes place in her once-a-week Sunday worship services. For the great majority of believers, this is their only opportunity to be discipled. Is this what Jesus had in mind in his command for us to disciples all nations?
Sadly, the answer is “no.”
In a typical Sunday worship service, believers spend some time worshipping God in song. Then the pastor or speaker will encourage them in their faith. Included in the message might be the gospel. Depending on the church the sermon will last anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour. After that an offering is taken. Following the closing hymn and prayer, the people are dismissed until the following Sunday. That is the extent of “discipleship” for most believers.
Is this what Jesus meant by discipleship? How did Jesus disciples his followers?
Jesus obviously spent time teaching his disciples, not simply once a week on Sunday. He would take them with him as he went from place to place preaching the gospel, healing the sick and casting out demons. In this way he was training them to minister in the same way after he left them to return to his Father’s house at his ascension. According to Luke 9 and 10, that is how he trained his Twelve disciples, and later the Seventy-two disciples.
What believers get today once-a-week in church on a Sunday morning, even if attendance at a mid-week service is included, is a pittance compared to the teaching the early disciples received from Jesus.
What is our excuse for not discipling believers as Jesus did—that we are not Jesus?
John 14:12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
Now we can see more clearly why we have not fulfilled the Great Commission in 2,000 years. With the traditional structure of the Church, we are clearly not making disciples. Rather we are making mostly church-goers and church members who with their weekly attendance along with their tithes and offerings enable local churches to pay their bills and thus to perpetuate their existence. In this way they maintain the status quo—a status quo which will not allow precious resources to be diverted to fulfilling the Great Commission among the billions of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and idol-worshipers in the Third World who have not heard the gospel even once.
During these Last Days, it is time to make DISCIPLES who will make the Great Commission their utmost priority.
Luke 10:2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.