Five years ago, I had a very scary birthday with a zero in it. I dreaded turning 50 because that number sounded so old! But I chose to accept reality. I also decided I would spend the rest of my life investing in the next generation because I believe discipleship is at the very heart of the gospel.
God began to put young men in my life, and many of them asked me if I would mentor them. I began taking some of them on mission trips. Others began calling me for counsel or coaching. Some needed prayer to overcome habits or addictions. The more I invested in them, the more excited I got about helping other Christians grow in their faith.
Today, mentoring young people is the most fulfilling thing I do. I enjoy preaching to crowds, but if I have to choose between speaking to an audience of a thousand or talking to a small group of spiritually hungry young leaders, I would choose the latter every time. That’s because relational discipleship is the lost art of Jesus and the secret of New Testament ministry.
Today I believe the Holy Spirit is drawing the church back to the New Testament model. Leaders as well as churchgoers are weary of the impersonal, performance-based, people-in-the-pews approach. We are tired of the show. We have not been called to entertain an audience—we have been commissioned to train an army.
We all know Jesus spent most of His ministry investing in a small number of followers who then invested in others. So why don’t we use that approach? Here are 7 obvious reasons:
1. We are ignorant of the Great Commission. When Jesus was about to leave this earth, He gave us our final marching orders in Matthew 28:19. He did not say, “Go and attract crowds” or “Go and preach to multitudes” or “Go and build churches.” There is certainly nothing wrong with buildings, good sermons or mass evangelism, but Jesus made it clear that our priority is relational discipleship: “Go and make disciples.” If He spent 3 1/2 years investing in a small handful of followers, why do we think we can do it a different way?
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