Jesus looked for those willing to be taught by the Father, Christians look for those willing to be taught by them
“But Jesus replied, ‘Stop complaining about what I said. For no-one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up. As it is written in the scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from Him comes to me.” (John 6:43-46)
When we started the work we are doing in Somerset (click here to find out more) I remember going through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) to see how Jesus started a radical movement with a handful of ordinary untrained men and women. I was desperate to understand how differently Jesus lived and operated and to change my attitudes and ways so that we could be more fruitful in our own disciple making.
One issue stood out to me as I prayerfully looked at how Jesus made disciples.
Jesus didn’t ask people to say the ‘sinners prayer’. He didn’t ‘get them saved’. And He didn’t just baptise people and set them on their way. Jesus looked for those who the Father was at work in and then He taught them to become life long disciples who multiplied themselves until they filled the whole earth.
In my experience – Jesus’ version of ‘making disciples’ looks nothing like the church’s version of “making disciples”. I realised that I was looking for people who wanted to listen to my knowledge and teaching about Jesus – but Jesus looked for people who were listening and learning from the Father. My idea of success and fruitfulness was built on the idea of gathering people to listen to me. The goal for many leaders, I fear, is to gather as many people as they can so they can impart knowledge and information to them. Making disciples however isn’t spoon feeding spiritual babies each week and thinking that we need to teach our people what they need to know. Making disciples is about training and equipping those who are already hearing and learning from the Father and helping them to multiply themselves until the ends of the earth are transformed by God’s Kingdom.
“Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do His work and to build up the church, the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12)
A disciple isn’t someone who relies on you to spoon feed them but someone who needs equipping to do their Kingdom work.
It dawned on me that here in Somerset God was asking me (some might say ‘commanding’ me!) to find people willing to repent, turn their lives around and to become radical disciples who didn’t just receive Jesus into their own lives but also were willing to boldly make more disciples as well. I’d never met anyone like that – but then I’d never asked God to help me find anyone like that! I concluded that I would not find people like this through my own cleverness, by being friendly and nice to people for years or by using the latest evangelistic tool!!!
Instead of looking for people who showed some vague interest in God – I began to search earnestly for people ready who were ready to repent, be baptised and learn how to be a disciple making disciple. Was there an overnight change? Not really! But over months and years our faith and practice shifted. If you were to visit the work we are doing now you’ll meet those we are discipling and see how they are now discipling other people. God has helped us to create a disciple making culture where we look for those who God is at work in. Here are two of the ordinary untrained team sharing how they are making disciples:
Instead of looking for people who want to listen to me I want to find and work with people who are listening and learning from God the Father! How will I be faithful to Jesus’ command to make disciples if I don’t find people like that? It’s quite simple to find people who want to be disciples of Jesus…when you meet them you can offer to heal their sicknesses in Jesus name or pray for them and you can ask them some straightforward questions:
“Would you like to know more about Jesus?”
“Who else do you know that might want to know more about Jesus as well?”
“When and where can we meet up again?”
When you find some people who have this desire from God – you can then help them to start obeying Jesus’ teaching in the scriptures and to respond to His Spirit’s work in their lives. It’s all His work not ours.
Whether you are in another town or village, talking to your neighbors or sharing with your work colleagues – Jesus has called you to find people who the Father is at work in. So be bold and have fun finding these people!
“In the last days, God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17)
We’ve recently seen our children and younger disciples beginning to overtake us. It’s exciting. God promises to pour out His Spirit on everyone – not just on the self appointed experts.
We recently met a family who’s 11 year old daughter said she wanted to be baptised. We asked her where she had heard about baptism and she’s not really heard about it from anyone! We’ve had to conclude that Father God has been teaching this 11 year old girl directly. We recently baptised this 11 year old girl and her mum and they’ve started a church in their house.
Similarly one of our sons is developing as a prophet in the movement here. How has this happened? He’s not gone to Bible college or anything like that. He’s growing up in an environment where we all try and hear and obey Jesus. A few years ago I just asked him a question and I was amazed by his answer. Since then I try and make a point of encouraging him to share his thoughts when we gather with people. It all started because I asked someone else their opinion and shut my own mouth. Simple.
Go and find people who are being taught by the Father and help them to obey Him.