Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Great Commission Redux

Most evangelical churches use Matt 28:18-20 as the impetus for everyone in the church to do the 3 things: make disciples of all nations, baptize the believers and teach them to obey Jesus' teachings.

But note that He did not say: go and build mega-churches [I mean both the membership in numbers and the physical ownership and maintenance of the huge buildings]. Go and create children's ministry, youth's ministry, women's ministry, single's ministry, senior citizens ministry, and [last and least] men's ministry. Go count: weekly church worship and Sunday School attendances, numbers of self-confessed conversions, numbers of baptism and numbers of missionaries sent. Go and build up volunteer systems with training sessions, background checks, record tracking and annual retreats.

I write all this with tongue-in-cheek, because I am [technically] still a member of a mega-church in Austin, TX and have seen it grow from few hundred to few thousands over the past 8 years. And our church loves to re-read Matt 28:18-20 and tries to reapply it to our church, right now, today. Unfortunately, what I was taught was:
  1. Discipleship is all about taking classes over several weeks. It is not a multi-year (if not multi-decade) mentorship.
  2. Baptism: that's what the pastors do after some sort of training. But the numbers which matters are the conversion numbers (as if Christian life was a one time event)
  3. Obey: This area is murky since what they teach is invariably weakened by human reinterpretation of the Bible, which no one is immune from, including yours truly.
As I have been exploring in this blog, discipleship is not measured in weeks or months but years and decades. You don't do it 1 or 2 hours a week: day in and day out is what Jesus did.

And my thinking is that church happens as part of discipleship [creating disciples create church and worship happens as an outgrowth of this fellowship of the saints] not the other way around as it is done in most churches: church meetings take place and discipleship may or may not happen. Which is why I believe Jesus said:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations [Matthew 28:19a]
Rather than "go and start a church." Or start a denomination. Or sign up new members. Or invite friends to take part in church [or play church]. Or get friends and relatives to be churchy [like invite them to your home fellowship rather than to the big-mega church].

NO! He said "go and make disciples."

And the call for me, I believe, is to make myself and my sons His disciples [with other men's help, of course] rather than His church attenders and church members.

[I don't know how wives and daughters fit into all this, yet.]

As a side note:
I now personally believe that Matt 28:18-20 is a call only for the 11 disciples, not anyone else. I believe that we are called by God individually and our responsibility is to obey our calling (be it to fulfill 1 or 2 or 3 or zero of the 3 parts of the Great Commission). My hats off to my friend who pointed this out for him [and his family] and I agree!

More background: I write all this because of the things which I wasn't happy about in the book I've started reading this week: Why Men Hate Going to Church. The author, Murrow, seems to emphasize making the current church more attractive to men rather than re-thinking church. Ever since I read Howard Snyder's The Problem of Wineskins: Church Structure in a Technological Age, I have been weary of traditional church [for many years now] and Murrow's book made me rethink some more and then I felt compelled to go back to what the Great Commission really says and hence this blog entry.

Copyright 2006, DannyHSDad, All Rights Reserved.


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