Our Lord’s words in Matthew 28:18-20 give clear direction and definition to the work His church is to pursue in all ages and cultures until His glorious return. Over the centuries however the church has become engaged in and developed many ministries, which may or may not be tied to the “Great Commission”. Those entering pastoral ministry must have exceptional clarity as to what the Lord of the Church has actually called them to accomplish in making disciples. Therefore this course will examine the clear priority of discipleship in the pastoral ministry of the local church along with the supporting Biblical texts. Special attention will be given to observing the practices of Jesus in discipleship, grace based/Gospel driven discipleship, gender issues involved in models of discipleship, and practical application in the context of the complexity of the 21st century church in America.
AT503 Lesson 01
Explore the identity of the Local Church. Cultural issues put the church into an identity struggle. What is the local church? There is a Sunday morning experience, at times there is a superficial understanding of the Gospel, and at times it can be considered “church lite”. What are the distinguishing marks of the local church? Conflict is one aspect. Explore the meaning of discipleship. Small Groups are important which include family groups, youth groups, and gender groups. Discipleship also includes instruction in truth, modeling Christ, service to others and the Sacraments. The goal of discipleship is to discover, nurture, and act. Consider that discipleship is personal not private. Is discipleship a program?
AT503 Lesson 02
Explore Matthew 28:16-20 and The Great Commission. “But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’” The command in Matthew 28 is to "make disciples". Consider that disciple-making is a way of life for the disciples of Christ. What is involved in the making of disciples? Does that include evangelism? When is the process of discipleship beginning? We want all believers to become disciple-makers. What is baptism? Baptism is the entrance into the covenant community. Communion is the maintaining of our place in the covenant community. Explore that discipleship is a supernatural process.
AT503 Lesson 03
A disciple is someone who learns. The word “disciple” means “pupil”. Patrick Morley states, “We would like to suggest three conditions that, if met, qualify a person to be counted as a disciple. (All three conditions must be present. Further, if these three conditions are met, the person cannot disclaim being a disciple. See 1 Corinthians 12:15-16.) First, a disciple is called to walk with Christ; they profess faith in Jesus Christ. Second, a disciple is equipped to live like Christ; they are engaged in a process of spiritual growth and transformation. Third, a disciple is sent to work for Christ; they are serving the Lord.” Consider the challenge of new converts to Christ. Discipleship has generational implications. Consider ongoing training and gifted evangelists. There is a tendency to guilt people particularly in the area of evangelism. We need to be "radical bringers" and have gospel-centered, grace-focused discipleship. The gospel energizes behavior. Does grace change our morals? Explore the topic of promises and identity. The first thing the gospel does is to transform our identity. Our core identity is sons and daughters. We also have core roles. Men should be leaders, worker-providers and warriors. The problem today is that we try to change our core identity with our core roles. Our identity is primarily set by the father role in our lives. Consider the topic of the passivity of men.
AT503 Lesson 04
Continue to explore that discipleship affects the gender issue, parenting, and temperament. Does discipleship demand discipline? Consider discipleship and Genesis 1 and 2. Consider that we are a part of the whole scope of the history of redemption.
AT503 Lesson 05
Explore Ephesians 4:1-6. “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” We also read in Ephesians 2:1-4, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy . . .” Explore Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” The preacher's task, discipler’s task, and the teacher's task is to help connect the work of the gospel into the real everyday life of the follower of Christ. Consider that the gospel without application is a recitation of history. Discipleship is long-term.
AT503 Lesson 06
Consider what Robert E. Coleman states in The Master Plan of Discipleship. “Discipling men and women is the priority around which our lives should be oriented.” Consider that a clergy mentality sometimes keeps us away from making disciples. The Book of Acts is the Great Commission fleshed out. What is the relationship between the Church and the Kingdom of God? The Church is central to the fleshing out of the Kingdom of God in this world. The Kingdom of God grows in numbers and we are part of that multiplication. Coleman states, “The Book of Acts makes clear that bringing the Gospel to every creature is God's program, and it can be accomplished." Is a small church a better and more pure church? What is an optimal size of a church? Should numbers affect our view of discipleship? Who does a pastor disciple in the context of a local church? Explore a visual on a Model of Discipleship that has discipleship from the pastor to elder and elder to everyone else. Discipleship is needed for family, counseling, pastoral care, weddings, funerals, and leader meetings. What is required for this model to work? Organization is key. A pastor should spend time with his family. Consider that we disciple those who are the most available and most open to our ministry.