September // October 2009
t was a small gathering with a big name. The “World Apostolic Summit.” February 1999.Singapore. Thirty “apostles” from around the world spent three days answering thequestion: What do you feel God is saying to His church? As usual, I was the youngest in the room and the only one wearing jeans. I wassimultaneously inspired and intimidated as I listened to these spiritual giants talk about what God was doing in their nations. I felt like a lion in a den of Daniels.
When it was finally my turn to suggest what I feltthe Lord was saying to His church in 1999, I said thatHe was probably saying the same thing He said in1899, in 1599, in 999 and in 99: “Go and make dis-ciples.” I wasn't trying to be smart. But sadly, I was theonly one in the room who mentioned anything aboutmaking disciples. Why do church leaders spend time doing everythingbut making disciples? Why do we try every church-growth gimmick known to mankind, yet ignore theone strategy Jesus endorsed? Shouldn’t His last mes-sage be our first option?Discipleship isn’t supposed to be complicated. Dif-ficult sometimes, complicated never. Two thousand years ago, discipleship was so simple that a carpenterexplained it to uneducated fishermen in one sentence:“Follow me and I will send you out to fish for people”(Matt. 4:19, TNIV). Those simple fishermen followed,fished and changed their world.If modern discipleship is confusing or complicated, itis because we have strayed from biblical principles andthe simple biblical process that Jesus lived and taughtHis disciples. Sadly, the fruit of this departure is glar-ingly evident today in the United States (see “What’sGoing Wrong”).For Jesus, discipleship was and still is top priority. Yes, He fed the hungry and healed the sick. But Healways gave the 12 disciples His prime time. His final word to them before He ascended into heaven was acommission not just to be disciples, but also to makedisciples. Like the original followers of Jesus, we aresupposed to be disciples and we are supposed to makedisciples. In others words, we are supposed to follow Jesus and we are supposed to help others follow Him.
Shhh ... Don’t Say the D-Word
Ever wonder why it’s so rare in the modern church tohear leaders talk about discipleship? Or why it’s evenmore rare to see a leader prioritize discipleship? We’vegathered huge crowds, built massive buildings, pub-lished books, recorded CDs, preached on TV and radio,and exerted political power. We’ve had healing revivals,laughing revivals, crying revivals, repenting revivals,manifestation revivals and offering revivals. We’ve builtfaith churches, charismatic churches, nondenomina-tional churches, megachurches, cell churches, housechurches, organic churches and emerging churches. Yea, we’ve done it all during my 29 years in ministry,but have we made disciples?Unfortunately, not very often. The problem is that although most Christians agree
What’s happened to real discipleship in America... and how we can get back on track
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