|Practical wisdom for fulfilling ministry and missions! By: Fola Fayokun
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go 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 I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” Matt28-18-20 Making Disciples
The main thrust or mission of every church; ministry; or mission agency whether at home (its base or headquarters or principal domain) or on the mission field is one. It has never been more than one. Our methods might be different by reason of our target audience or community, yet there is only one God given purpose for every church, mission or ministry. It is to make disciples. “Therefore go and make disciples–” No church or mission needs to reinvent the wheel in finding what its purpose for existence ought to be, neither should any mission or church be concerned about its own relevance for its community.
————Therefore go and make disciples———————————
It is a big omission on our part, when as a mission, church or ministry we are misled to make other purposes our mission or place less emphasis on this God given assignment. By saying “GO” Jesus was clear about what He was commissioning us to do for Him. It is the Going of MAKING DISCIPLES where we are and of ALL NATIONS we are sent to. A very critical piece of our understanding often overlooked, therefore is not just in the physical sense of GOing (i.e. our readiness to go for missions whether city, local or foreign -which we often talk about) but more importantly our knowing what we are meant to “GO” and do as a church, ministry or mission agencies where God has placed us or sent us. Which is to “GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES?
Every pastor, missionary, Christian worker must know this to be his/her primary call. Doing charity work won’t be enough, having converts will fall short, healing will not be sufficient, and providing musical or drama entertainment or social network will be below the mark. As a church, ministry, or mission organization while we cater to every other venture such as food provision, clothing needs, employment opportunities social networking, social functions, child naming, burial arrangements, anniversaries, weddings, notwithstanding all these must not make us to neglect our primary purpose of making disciples.Rather these good and great deeds are to be done in furtherance of our primary call of discipleship. It is noteworthy that the centrality of Jesus’ ministry was the making of disciples. The twelve disciples we popularly know later grew into seventy which were sent out to preach and later, the one hundred and twenty. The numbers kept growing. Yet we have come to know that the one critical thing that is clearly visible in His (Jesus) ministry labours aside from His death on the cross was the making of disciples. It is noteworthy that while the ministry at the cross was concluded, discipleship is ongoing, it is the outcome of victory at the cross, and that is the work He has committed to every mission and every local church or ministry. This is the labour that must occupy us above everything else. Actually, every relevance of what we do in missions and ministry is measurable only by this one fact – impact and contribution to disciple making.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, if ye continue in my word, then are you my disciples John 8:31
While Jesus’ ministry drew so much crowd and His healing power attracted uncountable multitudes, yet He seemed unimpressed by the number of people attending His meetings. His focus and emphasis was on making disciples. Why was Jesus using the word “IF”—“Then” in this passage above? Jesus was looking for disciples, not mere numbers of fans. I have since learnt that Jesus was counting by the disciples He made not by auditorium space and attendees at His meetings. When He (Jesus) performed healings, it was not (healing) the end result He was looking for. It was disciples He was seeking. His invitation to salvation was clear and His labour on them to be made disciples was His ultimate pursuit. This was Jesus’ passion and nothing short of this is fulfilling to Jesus in ministry. If Jesus will be our pattern, then this and only this must be the task of every church and every mission effort. The question that confronts me and you is whether we are making disciples or not. This is the critical matter. This is the only task of the church. This is the great commission. This is the reason every church mission or ministry exists. This is the reason why every pastor, evangelist and prophet exists. We must rediscover this and commit ourselves again to it. Are you raising disciples? As leaders of God’s people, the need for us all to be involved in discipleship, whether as pastors or evangelists or missionaries cannot be overemphasized. The truth is that, there is actually no other mission aside of this. If anyone of us will go to the ministry or mission field or plant a church whose primary purpose is not discipleship, such will be a waste of precious consecration and kingdom resources. There are many distractions we must avoid as God’s servants. Though they seemingly look like good Christian service, they are baits of the devil to deprive God’s servants of the correct focus of discipleship which ministry ought to be. Let us examine a few.
1. The misplaced focus on numbers
Whereas quantity can be a good thing yet over and over again, the Word of God emphasizes quality over quantity. The belief that the bigger the number, the better, has made us to compromise quality for quantity in our Christian labours and output. The servant of God must be careful to ensure his or her labours emphasize quality and not mere quantity. Also to ensure that in the bid to gather quantity (the crowd), he is not compromising the quality of his output to our Lord. Here are few words of the Lord Jesus himself on the matter of quality over quantity.
“Not everyone who says Lord ,Lord shall enter the kingdom of God but he does the will of my father in heaven” Matt7:21 “Enter ye in at the narrow gate for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there be which go in there, because narrow is the gate and narrow is the way which lead to life and few there be that find it.” Matt7:13-14 Better is a dry crust of bread where there is quietness than a house full of feasting with strife.Prv17:1(NET)
As servants of God who are entrusted with God’s work, we must avoid the pitfalls of wanting just to gather the crowd, appealing to fame or seeking the benefits of large offering collection, thereby gathering multitudes at the expense of raising disciples. Raising disciples is the way to produce men and women who will run the Christian race to the end notwithstanding fierce persecutions; make impact for the kingdom of God by their life while on earth and make heaven at the end.
“And every one that hear these sayings of mine and do them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand, and the rain descended and the floods came and the winds blew and beat upon the house and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” Matt 7:26-27
No lasting work can be built on the ministry of gathering multitudes at the expense of making disciples. Jesus illustrated this clearly in the parable of the two builders. It is easy to gather men in Jesus’ name when all we advertise and feed them with are opportunities for material acquisitions, motivational speaking that excites the human appetite for avarice and psychology of human reasoning. Certainly, so will they be spiritually wasted, compromised, dispersed and scattered once the enemy visits them with bigger or a measure of affliction. The multitudes’ attraction is that which indulges the belly and body, that which does not challenge sin or the flesh. The very thing Jesus came to destroy. May I appeal to every minister to focus his labour on making disciples and not just on “number of services” held or “amount of money” collected. Our mission initiatives should not be measured by “number of wells” sunk or “number of buildings built” but on the lasting labour of disciple making where convictions conversions and transformation is a growing experience.
2. The pressure for quick results to showcase
Making disciples takes time and demands rigorous spiritual and physical labours. Very often a price we are not willing to pay and a gestation period we are not prepared for. In addition, the intensity of labour in obscurity is now becoming foreign to Christian work in our days. The Christian worker is confronted with the pressure to “perform and impress” the missionary agencies, sending organisations, sponsors, church/ mission board, friends colleagues, hence many workers are not given to the deep rooted labours of raising disciples but instead focus on those superficial activities that is appealing to gathering multitudes, by which pictures can be taken and splashed as evidence of a work. Yes it is a work but not at the depth that heaven is looking for and certainly not an enduring foundation for a lasting work.
“My little children of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.” Gal4:19.
Paul was seeking a labour among men and women whose benchmark is that Christ be formed in them. (the formation of Jesus in the heart of men and women already set in their ways for years).As Christian workers, we must shun the temptation for flamboyant and outward exaggerations of cosmetic statistic; photo-op and all such work that has no depth. Many of these are used to appeal to friends and sponsors to generate funding, or meant to impress others. Such measurement as “number of services we hold”, number of baptisms”, “number of staff member” “ministry/church budget we control” “number of auxiliaries” “presence on mission fields” and the employment of such lexicon that are childish, such as “overflow service”, “take over”, “high demand pastor”, just to mention a few. These are accompanied by bogus and pompous appellation and self-seeking titles for the man of God. In our days, where there are as many newsletters and news bulletin for almost as many missions, yet far too little mission impact on our lands. As God’s servant we must remember that our primary employer is God, who will judge both the dead and the living at his appearing.
“I charged you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word: be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” 2Tim4:1-2
“And the things that you have heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that war entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who hath chosen him as a soldier”2Tim2:2-4
“According to the grace of God which is given to me as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation and another build on it, but let every man take heed how he build on it “ 1Cor3:10“Every man’s work shall be made manifest for the day shall declare it. Because it shall be revealed by fire and the fire shall try every man’s work for what sort it is. If any man’s work shall be burned he shall suffer loss—“ ICor3:13,15
To be continued