Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Disciples are Called by Jesus to Make Disciples
The New Testament teaches us that Jesus has died in our place and answered for our sins and that everyone who believes this good news will be saved from an eternity in Hell. Do Christians still believe this biblical truth? Our mouths may say "yes," but I fear that our lives say "maybe." If the majority of Christians in the U.S. truly believed this then our churches would be growing like those in Africa and Asia. Hearts burdened for the lost stir up mouths to speak the good news of Jesus to those who do not believe in him. Sure, we can cite a whole litany of reasons for the decline in church membership and worship attendance - declining birthrates, shifting culture, worship style, etc. - but at the end of the day, the problem is that we are not following Jesus' plan for the growth of his Church. What is Jesus' plan? - disciples making disciples. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus said to his disciples "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.” Somewhere along the line, we have developed the perception that if we hire the right preacher and conduct the right advertising campaign people will come to our churches. That's the problem - we are looking for our neighbors to come to us when what Jesus said is "go to them!" Every church study that I have seen in which church members who did not previously attend a church were asked "what brought you here?" found that more than 80% of respondents indicated that they were invited by a friend, relative, coworker, or neighbor. This is not just one study - this is every study that I have seen in the last 18 years. Conclusion: if Christians don't start reaching out to their friends, relatives, neighbors, and co-workers - their congregations will be gone in one generation. The real tragedy when congregations close is the lost souls whom those congregations could have reached.
So why is it that most Christians do not speak of Jesus to their friends, relatives, neighbors, and co-workers? The Church has not prepared them to speak of Jesus. The LCMS is doing something about this. Our leaders in evangelism have created a program called "Everyone His Witness" in order to help Christians speak of Jesus to the people in their lives. Whether we like to think about it or not, there are people in our lives for whom we may be the only one who can share the saving news about Jesus with them. We want to equip you to fulfill your Father's mission to them. Please check out the introductory video online at https://youtu.be/j2TkJemnLbE. On Saturday, December 1, at Messiah Church, from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm (lunch included), the Everyone His Witness program will be taught in its entirety by Pastor Burakowski. If you can do one thing this year to nurture your discipleship, please make this program the thing that you do. There is a signup sheet in the narthex for you to RSVP. The participant book will be provided to you free-of-charge by St. John's. Your commitment of a Saturday and a willingness to apply what you learn may impact someone whom you care about for eternity.
In Christ Jesus,