The Weekly Epistle 2/21/24

The Why of Discipleship
Week Five: Why Going Might Look Like Staying
 
Living Hope, 
 
What comes to mind when you hear the words “The Great Commission?” 
 
For many of us, these words evoke images of the great missionaries of the past two centuries. Missionaries like David Livingston, who ventured into the “Dark Continent,” carrying the light of the Gospel. Or Hudson Taylor, who preached to the East and played a key role in establishing the church in China. There’s also Jim Elliot, whose ministry met a tragic end at the tip of a spear, and Elizabeth Elliot, whose ministry began at the same fateful point. These names rightly come to mind when contemplating the Great Commission. However, the Great Commission is not solely intended for those who embark on journeys to the ends of the earth. It is equally a commission for those of us who remain on the home front. 
 
For the last two centuries, we’ve placed a strong emphasis on the word “go,” all the while assuming that going was a call exclusively reserved for those daring enough to enter the mission field. However, the emphasis of the commission is not on the going but on the making. The going is just the means to an end, and the end is discipleship.
 
So then, what if going looked more like staying?
 
What if we went unto the uttermost parts of the children’s ministry hall? What if we entered each room wondering which little girl may grow into the next Elisabeth Elliot or what little boy may lead an entire country to radical faith in Jesus? What if we crossed the parking lot in search of the teen who will one day pastor our church? 
 
The Church in America has been on the decline for decades, and the problem is only getting worse. Christian thought leaders like Carey Nieuwhof of the Art of Leadership Network and Dr. Kara Powell of the Fuller Youth Institute suggest the decline is largely due to the evangelical church’s failure to disciple its own children. 
 
When we view “go” strictly as an imperative for global missions, we may lose sight of the discipleship opportunities playing at our feet.
 
The Lord has blessed this old church with a lot of young families. Living Hope Kids and Momentum Student Ministries are busting out of the seams with kids. Each kid is a wonderful opportunity. Will we be faithful to the call to make disciples? The American church may be in decline, but this need not be the case here. If we are faithful to stay put and disciple those the Lord has entrusted to us, then I am sure he will be faithful to raise up little pastors and missionaries all around us. 
 
We started out this series with a simple question. Why do we make disciples? As we have seen, we make disciples because Jesus modeled discipleship for us. His public ministry began with the command “follow me,” and it ended with the command “go.” Hopefully, you have heard his call to follow. Hopefully, you will be faithful to obey his call to go—even if going looks like staying.
 
Blessings, 
 
Pastor Dan