Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What Numbers Are Important to You?

What numbers or statistics are important to you? What do you or your church record? Naturally, many churches carefully count attendance, decisions, or baptisms. Do you count or record the number of people that you or your church are personally and regularly discipling? Of course this answer would run the gauntlet - some would state that they don't record any numbers while others record every statistic properly.

What does Jesus expect of us? What was His last command? "...as you are going, make disciples..." Unfortunately when some people, whether it be pastor or pew, read this they think it reads, "Evangelize." This would make as much sense as a Mother and Father upon staring down into a baby crib and saying, "Well we have done our part! You are on your own now. Our job is finished."

As noted before, the only direct verb or command in verse 19 in the "Great Commission" is to make disciples. Unfortunately too many sermons, lessons, and devotions have centered on the single word "go." It is true that "go" is a verb, however, it is a participle, a helping verb that describes a part of "make disciples."

This may come as a surprise to many but Jesus came to this earth for at least two purposes. He came to die on the cross while taking the sins of the elect upon himself. He also came to make disciples who would be witnesses of His death and resurrection in order to propagate His message. Jesus did both. He connected his death with the mission of teaching and mentoring men for approximately three and 1/2 years.

Jesus taught, prayed for and with, and modeled His life and teachings to these men. If Jesus had not died on the cross there would have been no salvation for any of mankind. Just as true, had there been no disciples in place to carry on the words and works of Jesus the message of the cross would have died with the last disciple.

We must evangelize! We must share the gospel. We also must disciple those new "babes" in Christ. We must teach them and model for them the principles that Jesus both said and did. Our mission and/or ministry includes both- we must share the gospel and we must train and develop those evangelized. The numbers of evangelized souls might be impressive but are meaningless if we don't have the same "numbers" of evangelized as we do those who are being discipled. Both numbers are important to Jesus!

What about you?

8 comments:

Seams Inspired said...

Great point, Gregg! I've often wondered when I get to heaven if I'll be asked how many people I discipled. Happy Wednesday! :o)

Scott said...

The "numbers" game is a big reason our churches are full of unconverted people. We do anything to "get them in" and get them "dunked" and give no thought to whether they are genuinely converted, and then truly discipled. You are so right. I have often said I would rather serve a church of 30 genuine believers interested in growing and serving, than 300 professlings and immature believers. Think of all the great missionary heroes who served for years at a time without a single convert. We'd call them failures today, but God used them in mighty ways. It's about faithfulness to our calling, not the "numbers."

Ron Joe "Geezer" said...

The numbers game has been played since the beginning of the church age. Get them in and keep them entertained is the name of the game today. We certainly don't want to ruffle any feathers by teaching them the Bible! Especially if they contribute financially and help out in the nursery. Scott is 100% correct.

Michael Wright said...

Good points. From your post and the comments. I see the numbers game played all the time, so I get that. Too often they "get saved" one week and are baptized the next, which seems to me to be a drastic mishandling of the ordinance of Baptism. (We should be just as careful with that as we are with the Lord's supper, they are the ordinances left to the church and should be guarded carefully) Then, they disappear and we never see them again. I see it all the time. This is a two-edged thing, first, we must be sure they are converted and not just a number, and if they are converted, then yes, they must be discipled.

This "Win 'em, Wet 'em, Work 'em" Mentality must be done away with. I believe in baptism after conversion (not immediately, however) and discipleship, but we must be sure they are truly born again. Perhaps going through I John as a start in discipleship to be sure they are saved would be a start?

Sorry for rambling, great post Bro. Gregg.

Kansas Bob said...

Loved this post Gregg! Great point about Jesus coming to make disciples.

I sometimes think that we do people such a disservice if we evangelize and do not disciple.

Misha said...

It's so true. So many churches are all about being missionaries in distant countries and reaching out to the poor, but they forget about the people in their own church.

New Christians need all the help the can get, but most of the churches I've been to just let them fall between the cracks.

Persis said...

Amen, Gregg. On Sunday my pastor emphasized that the commission is "as you are going, make disciples."

I've heard some say that it would be better for the churches to close their doors on Sunday morning and go out and reach the lost. But where would the lost be taught, it those doors were closed?

Penned Pebbles said...

Absolutely true! Blessings!