As a church we understand that the core business of the church is to “make disciples of Jesus Christ” (Matt. 28:16-20). But we also realize that often what it means to be disciple is left somewhat vague and ill- defined. That being the case- this is our attempt answer the questions, what is a disciple and what are the core attributes or qualities of someone who is a disciple? This of course is not just an academic exercise- it is an attempt to focus ministry toward the end of human transformation and an increase in Christlikeness for the glory of God in our midst. So here is our profile;
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
We are intentionally building a culture where people are:
Embracing their adoption in Christ and life by the Spirit
Jesus had a strong sense of Sonship. He was keenly aware that he was the Son of God and he lived, died and rose in order that his disciples could be invited in that same relationship in the Father by faith in the Son. (Adoption: Exod 4:22, Gal. 3:26, Gal. 4:4-7, Jn 14:6, Eph. 1:5, Jn 3:1) But Jesus did not just live as a Son but he also was full of and led by the Spirit. (Luke 4:1 & 4:18-19) We see this in Scripture in the life of Jesus himself and we also see it in the form of promise made in scripture for those that would be disciples (Lk. 11:11-1, Matt. 28:18-20, Jn 7:37-39, Jn. 14:24-26, Jn. 16:12-16).
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
Marked by Love
The scriptures make it clear that love is central to authentic discipleship. Love has always been right at the heart of the Bibles portrayal of God and ultimately love was revealed in its fullness in the coming of Christ. For this reason Christians are above all things to be marked by love. 1 Cor.13:1-13, 1 John 4:7-12, 16-21, Rom. 12:9-10).
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
1 John 4:7-8
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Serving to learn and learning to serve
The discipling community which Jesus established was also a serving community, and Jesus radically departed from tradition by also serving his disciples. Indeed his purpose for coming was ... not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10:25). He taught that true greatness was found in servanthood (Mk 9:35 & Mk 10:43).
But Jesus did not only embody servanthood or teach it conceptually- he also was keen to develop and teach his disciples by assigning ministry roles to them. So in Mk 3:14-15 Jesus reveals that supervised service is right at the heart of Jesus discipling process. He would send them out and then debrief with them, or alternatively he would give them some revelation of himself through his actions and words he would seek out there interpretation and application. Practical learning was usually undertaken in collaboration with at least one other disciple and was under the supervision of Jesus. All that to say learning through serving and serving to learn is right at the centre of what it means to be a disciple.
45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
Propelled outwards, carrying good news
The gospel is such good news that it demands to be told. From the beginning of the bibles story when Abraham and Sarah were called (Genesis 12:1-3) to the latter part of scripture on the lips of the resurrected Jesus- (Matthew 28:18-20), God has been eager for to alert the nations to the universal reign of God in Christ Jesus. God is a missionary, reaching across boundaries to redeem and reconcile. This was supremely demonstrated in Christ. To this end- he gives and sends his Spirit (Acts 1:8) in order that his people might be propelled outwards with the news that the Lord reigns.
Of course- there is quite possibly more to be said about what attributes define a disciple- but we believe these to be foundational aspects of that vision. So our prayer is that as a church we might be a community that through the Son and in the power of the Spirit might have the image of the Father restored to us in these ways. So may the Triune God empower us to this end for his glory.
17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.