“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18–20)
by Michelle Terry
We call it the Great Commission. These were Jesus’ final words in the Gospel of Matthew, his last command to his disciples. We are to go and make disciples. We’re to teach people everything that Jesus has commanded.
It is so inspiring and sounds so simple that everyone is on board at first. Yes. Let’s do that! We should go and make disciples.
But we usually don’t. I realized this recently; I suppose it shouldn’t have taken me so long to figure out. At the beginning of the year, I spent a few weeks praying for my congregation and seeking God’s guidance for us over the coming months. Through that time, I realized we do a lot that is wonderful . . . but much of it involves people coming to us. Very seldom do we go to people outside our congregation.
We are not alone. Many congregations don’t get out enough. We try to entice people to come to us rather than going to them to make disciples. We want to have the trendiest worship, the best music, the most delicious coffee. Those are all great, but they’re not the same as going out and making disciples. We send a flyer. And we wait. But people don’t usually show up, do they?
To be fair to ourselves, I think many of us are hesitant to reach out not because we find it unimportant, but because we find it so important. We don’t feel qualified. We don’t feel ready, and we don’t want to mess up. So we just err on the side of caution and never ask people to join us. We never try to make disciples because we don’t feel like we’re good at this discipleship thing ourselves. So what do we do?
The Rev. Michelle Terry is on the adventure that is life with God with the members of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Middletown, Ohio, where she is the pastor. She and her husband are the proud parents of three children.
Women of the ELCA offers several resources for your discipleship journey. Go to WomenoftheELCA.org, click on “our Work” and look for the link to discipleship in the left-hand column.
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