A notable blog post caught my attention yesterday entitled:
“What If Not All Are Called As Disciple Makers? – Part One” Please read that brief post in its entirety before going on to read the rest of this one.
It’s reminiscent of something I read by John M. Frame some time ago.
“Christ commands his church to evangelize the whole world; I am a member of the church; therefore Christ commands me to evangelize the whole world.” Much grief is wrought by pastors who take commands in the Bible that are intended for the church as a whole and impose them on individuals, as if each individual had to do the whole job himself. Thus individuals are led to think that they must pray all day, evangelize their neighborhoods, become experts in Scripture, Christianize the institutions of society, feed all the poor in the world, and so forth. No! These commands are for the church as a whole, and individuals contribute to these purposes in accordance with their particular gifts (Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12-14).
-John M. Frame, Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, 299.
In a nut shell, the proposition is made that all Christians within the church perform different functions, but not all within the church must perform the same functions. I believe that’s true. 1 Corinthians 12:18 etc. Every person within the body of Christ is gifted differently and have unique characteristics, perceptions, expressions, and gifts to offer. Those gifts and talents may be used to glorify God, edify the body of Christ, and reach beyond our skull shaped kingdoms in the expansion of Jesus’ Kingdom. Further, it alludes to the idea that if you are involved in Kingdom work in a supporting role but not directly involved in the actual and personal making of disciples yourself, then it’s okay.
Bryant L. Myers, in his book “Walking With The Poor” states:
“Since the Christian faith is a missionary faith, then being a Christian means being a witness. The word gospel means “message” or “good news,” and messages are not messages unless they are announced. The word evangelism means “to announce the news.” When Christians say that they accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they are also saying that they intend to announce this fact in every facet of their lives and by every means available to them: by life, deed, word, and sign. For Christians, being a witness is integral to who we are and what we believe.”*
While Bryant focuses on “being a witness,” it is my contention that his argument is equally valid for Making Disciples and Evangelism. I do not think that Making Disciples (Matthew 28:18,19,20), Witnessing (Acts 1:8) or Evangelizing (Mark 16:15), is relegated to any limited subset within Christendom nor to any sub-set of ecclesiastical positions within the Church. Also, I believe that the command to make disciples is a command for individuals as well as corporate structures to make disciples of individuals and thereby the ethnic groups (nations) of which those ethnic groups consist. The command to “make disciples,” is one of the commands which Jesus told his disciples they must teach to others. The assumption is that others will follow suit. That is an inescapable logical loop in the Great Commission. Without the preaching of the gospel, it is impossible to obey Jesus’ command to make disciples. See Acts 14:21 etc. Every disciple of Jesus is to make disciples of Jesus. Whether it takes a community of believers to make a disciple is irrelevant. Of course it does. “One seeds, another waters, and God causes growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6) Disciple Making cannot be overly corporatized by the Ekklesia nor hyper-individualized. Both aspects, the ‘all of you’s’ AND the ‘each of us’ (Ephesians 4:7, Romans 14:12, Romans 15:2, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Romans 12:6, Romans 12:4, Romans 12:1 etc.) must be held in fruitful tension.
So, when I read Scott Lance’s post over at Missio Alliance, and he asked this question…
What if all are not called as Disciple-Makers?
Followed by this statement…
“I do not believe all Christians are called to be disciple-makers.”
My interests were peaked. While Scott doesn’t get to the answer of the question yet as ‘Part II” is supposed to come out today, I can appreciate his approach and look forward to reading his propositions and conclusions. For now, a few questions;
Are all followers of Christ supposed to be disciple makers?
Are all followers of Christ supposed to make other people ‘fishers of people?”
What biblical warrant is there if you answered ‘no’ to either of the first two?
*Principles and Practices of Transformational Development (Revised and Expanded Edition) (Kindle Locations 6462-6466). Orbis Books. Kindle Edition.