Gathered by Christ to be and make Disciples

On Discipleship: Our Mission

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

Our mission is simple: “to be and make disciples” of Our Lord Jesus.

What is a disciple?
A spiritual athlete or superstar? Well, A disciple literally means “student”. Jesus plainly tells us what he means by disciple: those who are baptized into God’s Triune Name and are being taught to “observe” all of Jesus’ teaching. (Mt. 28:19-20)

What makes you a disciple of Jesus?
Do you have to sell everything and follow Jesus? Go out to preach on a street corner? Again, what does Scripture say? It is nothing we do that makes us disciples, but it is Jesus’ call to us that makes us disciples (Mark 1:17). He calls us – “follow me” – through His Word and Holy Sacraments, giving us faith to receive and believe His call, and then to follow Him in our everyday living.

What qualifications do I need to be a disciple?
Does Jesus only call those who have previous qualifications, with certain gifts and abilities to be disciples? No! No one is qualified to be a disciple of Jesus. Period. Instead, Jesus’ call, His gracious choice and His work for us on the cross qualify us (Colossians 1:12).

So what does a disciple do?
Well, a disciple does “discipleship”: he/she is being taught and trained by the Lord Jesus, through the ministry of the Church, to “observe all that I have commanded you”. That is, a disciple is being taught to:

  1. Know the Lord through His Word.
  2. Learn to practice and apply the faith in everyday life.
  3. Pass on what he or she learns to others in simple, intentional ways.

How do I participate in being a disciple myself?
Discipleship happens where Jesus is: in the Divine Service, at Sunday School and Bible studies, in family devotions, and in conversations around our tables. A disciple gives himself to the following, as we see in Acts 2:42 – (1) learning Holy Scripture, (2) in our supporting one another in the Church, (3) receiving Christ in the Sacraments, and (4) regular prayer together and privately. Intentionality is key. Disciples are to make these are priority as they are being trained and formed by Christ for a task.

How do I participate in making disciples of others?
First, we make disciples together as the Church, not individually: no one is to do this solo. By supporting the ministry of the Church, and by participation and sharing your own gifts, Our Lord is making disciples through us all.

Second, each one of us has a web of relationships in which we are already used by God to help, support, and serve our “neighbors”. It is within this web of relationships that you are to grow as one who is an ambassador for Christ by your good works and prayers for others, but also to pass on the Word about Christ: spouse to spouse, parent to child, disciple to disciple, friend to friend, etc. As we grow in our understanding and practice of the faith, we will also grow in knowing how to do this in appropriate ways.