There is a question I am asked when met with colleagues in ministry. ‘How many members do you have in your church?’ After answering the question I ask them, ‘How many disciples do you have in your church?’ Not to offense, but most of the time my question knocks their brains out.
Statistics are important. Still they aren’t as important as discipleship because discipleship is the heart of any church. I know that discipleship is far more complicated than what I can discuss in a sermon. This is why I choose to cover the 3 most basic requirements as Jesus laid it out in Luke 9:23.
1. Deny yourself
A. Self denial was the foundation of Jesus’ ministry. Evident in incarnation (Philippians 2:5-8) and death of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53:7).
B. Two biblical methods. First by living for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31) and serving others (Mark 10:45)
C. Secondly in how we relate to others, (Matthew 5:39-42). Positive relationships were Jesus’ main ministerial strategy.
2. Carry the cross
A. Jesus was sought after to kill for who he was, (Matthew 26:62-68) and the crowds rejected him for his actions, (John 6:66).
B. This is the cross. We too will be persecuted for who we are (John 1:12) and be ridiculed for our actions, (John 16:33).
C. This is how we carry it. Resist pressure and stand firm to the end regardless what the world will say or do unto us.
3. Follow Jesus every day
A. Discipleship is a painful, lifelong, daily process of transformation, (Philippians 3:13-14).
B. Our will power, determination and strength can’t help us meet the challenges in discipleship. Therefore we need to do exactly as Jesus did.
C. First he was led by the Spirit (Matthew 4:1), Second he had an intimate relationship with God, Third he depended on God’s grace (Luke 22:43).
Why is discipleship so important? If Jesus’ death and resurrection were the brains of God’s salvation plan discipleship is the heart beat. It is the sacrificial lifestyle of true disciples that inspire the world to leave everything behind and follow Christ exclusively. God sent his son to set the captives free. It’s the disciples who shall go forth and ring the bell, in every possible way.