As I have previously shared, God has been laying three words on my heart and mind when I prayerfully consider the ministry of First Wayne Street United Methodist Church: go, love, together. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to utilize this blog to explore these three words and how I believe they can guide our ministry at First Wayne Street.
All three of these words are based on some of the “great” sayings from Jesus’ teaching. Through the teaching known as the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), we are called to go. The Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40) calls us to love. Through what has been referred to as the Great Collaboration, which is part of Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17, we see that we are better together. When we put these “great” sayings together, we see that we are called to go and love, together.
For this post, I’d like to focus on our call to go. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus, in some of his final words to his disciples says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
I’ve come to find that last words are often very important words. In these final words, Jesus call his followers to go and make disciples – of all nations. Not some, but all! He says to baptize, to teach the commands while finding the strength and courage to do this by remembering that He is with us always.
Where is Jesus calling us to go and make disciples? Well, I believe Jesus is calling us to go and make disciples wherever we find ourselves. Our homes, our schools, our neighborhoods, our workplaces, wherever you do your grocery shopping, your favorite coffeeshop or restaurant, the place you play trivia, wherever you gather for social outings – wherever we find ourselves, that’s where Jesus is calling us to go and make disciples.
The process of making disciples begins by building friendships. This is not a quick process. It’s often a long game where we build trust and authentic relationships where the person recognizes that we genuinely care for them.
It doesn’t have to be weird. You don’t have to get someone to pray the sinner’s prayer the first time you meet. Maybe it starts with simple small talk. Then it begins to develop like any other friendship, where the content of conversations begins to deepen. Eventually, you will discover opportunities to share about your faith, your church and extend an invitation.
Maybe the first invitation isn’t to a church worship gathering, but to a rummage sale, an ice cream social, a Wednesdays on Wayne Street recital.
We have to start somewhere…and that somewhere is wherever we find ourselves. You are uniquely planted where God has placed you to be a witness for Jesus.
I also believe we should take note of what Jesus didn’t say. Jesus didn’t say go and start another bible study. Jesus didn’t say go and build a new education wing. Jesus didn’t say sit and wait for people to come to you. He said “go” – get out of the building – get out of your comfort zone – and meet people where they are.
We should also notice what Jesus called us to make. He calls us to make disciples…not Methodists, not Presbyterians, not non-denominational Christians, not Republicans or Democrats or Libertarians, not well-behaved church going folks…but disciples.
Disciples are those who believe in their hearts and confess with their mouths Jesus Christ as Lord – and then follow in His way of Love for all.
As a bi-product of going and making disciples, we might see the fruit of a growing congregation. We also might see the fruit of other congregations growing. Either way, when we go and make disciples, it’s a win for the Kingdom.
I believe we are poised for a great Kingdom movement at First Wayne Street UMC. This last year has been challenging in a number of ways. With all the distraction surrounding various denominational issues, more challenges lie ahead. But, we should look at it not as a problem to overcome, but as a great opportunity to better align with who God is calling us to be.
Pastor and author Dave Ferguson has said, “Where fear sees crisis, faith sees opportunity.”
What are the opportunities for FWS? Maybe God is calling us to do more by doing less. Maybe God is calling us to empower every person at FWS to embrace the missional call to go and make disciples. Maybe God is calling us to embrace a countercultural, Biblical pattern for the pace of life – which embraces and practices regular rhythms of rest and work. Maybe God is calling us to find new ways to be the church throughout our community.
If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that many of the things we have traditionally believed to be so important maybe aren’t as important as we elevated them to be? Some of the things we’ve always done, we haven’t been able to do (or we’ve had to do differently) and the world didn’t end. The church is still standing. Jesus is still calling us to go and make disciples. God is still promising us a hope and a future.
In calling us to “go,” Jesus calls us to be less attached to a place, a space, our activities, traditions and stuff, and more committed to the call to go and make disciples by sharing the life, love, joy, hope and peace of Jesus with all.
Where is Jesus calling you to “go and make disciples”?