How exactly are we as Christians to make disciples of all nations? Isn’t that the paid professional staff member’s job? Don’t you need a seminary degree for that? Isn’t it just the super-passionate evangelist types that are charged with going into all the world and preaching the good news? Not quite. After reading Marshall and Payne’s The Trellis and the Vine, I’ve been thinking more and more about their wonderful description of the Christian (EVERY Christian):
That’s such a good descriptor for what every Christian ought to see him or herself as. They are a disciple. One who learns from another. First and foremost, Christ. But also from others more mature in the faith than them. Someone else ought to be consistently passing the 2 Timothy 2:2 baton to them, investing time and energy into their lives, pouring out their faith to build them up, teach them and train them in the ways of the Lord Jesus. However, the one being discipled is not a run-off, they are a conduit. They are not only a recipient of discipleship, but a discipler of others as well. They are to be about the business of making disciples of others while they themselves are being discipled. They, following the example of the one discipling them are to receive a baton while also passing one on to another.
But how? Where? To whom? The answer is three fold:
- By preaching
- To everyone
Our job is to preach. Preaching is how we make disciples. We are to speak God’s truth to everyone, everywhere in every place. For some of us, this will be a vocational position at a local church, primarily preaching, speaking, proclaiming God’s truth from a pulpit each Sunday morning. For others it will mean speaking the truth about whatever topic comes up at the water cooler at work. Every time we speak the truth, we are proclaiming (or preaching) God’s truth. And we are to do it everywhere. There is no place that God’s kingdom does not touch. His word speaks to every area of all of life-no exceptions. And there are none who are exempt either. We preach to the non-Christian in hopes they will hear the message of Christ, repent of sin and put their trust in him for salvation. We preach to the new Christian in hopes that he will grow in grace and mature in his faith. The older Christian is to hear preaching so he can be reminded of God’s promises, faithfulness and goodness to him over the years. The senior saint needs to be preached to so he will suffer well, model Christ for the next generation and ultimately die an honorable death, resting in Christ. Like it or not, you are a preacher, if you are a Christian.
From the pulpit, the pew and the park bench. As I said, some of us are called to serve the local church in a very specific way. Namely, by regularly standing up in front of others and proclaiming God’s truth, preaching, from the pulpit week to week. But – no matter if this is your calling or not – we are all called to proclaim God’s truth to our Christian brother or sister sitting in the pew. Before and after the Sunday message, your conversation should be sprinkled with questions, encouragements and rebukes for those you worship and serve with. Husbands are to preach to their wives. Wives to their husbands. Parents to their children. Neighbors to neighbors. Co-workers to co-workers. No one is off the hook to preach. No one is exempt from being preached to. We are to preach, proclaim, explain, tell of and urge God’s truth on everyone. Our responsibility to preach doesn’t end when we leave the doors of the church, either. We are to go and make disciples. It’s somewhat easier to remind those already enlightened in the church, of the truth of God’s word on a regular basis. But what about the guy handing out balloons at the park downtown? What about the high school girl handing you your ice cream cone at Dairy Dan? What about the officer who stops you for speeding? They need God’s truth too. Preach from everywhere, even the park bench if necessary.
To everyone. As I mentioned already, it’s a temptation to only speak the truth to those who we naturally migrate toward. But this was not the example of Christ. He chose shepherds to announce his birth, hung out with tax collectors, harlots, Pharisees and even had women announce his resurrection! He was not ashamed to associate with the lowly of society. No one is off limits to preaching, because no one is beyond the grace of God in Christ that comes by preaching.
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” – Romans 10:14
It all boils down to preaching. Preaching from the pulpit to the gathered saints. Preaching to one another by the gathered saints. Preaching to the lost by the scattered saints.
From the pulpit, pew and park bench – may the good news of Jesus Christ go forth!