WHAT IS THE ESSENTIAL ACTIVITY OF CHRISTIAN MINISTRY:
To Make a Disciple who worships Jesus
Discipleship Ministries 500
Dr. Dale Mort
January 22, 2013
When one considers the question, “What is the essential activity of Christian ministry”, the first thing that must be accomplished is to truly understand and define what we mean by essential activity. As anyone who has been involved in any type of leadership role in ministry knows, there can be a huge amount of activities going on that are termed “ministry”. For many in leadership, the problem isn’t finding activities, the problem is finding the right activities for their unique ministry. One example may be that it probably isn’t a good idea to have a ministry to reach inner city children in the farmlands of Iowa. Leaders must decide what activities are best suited for them specifically.
With that being said, one thing that should be shared among any ministry in any setting, during any time in history past, present or future is that there should be the essential activity of Christian Ministry. Whether the ministry involves social justice, education of some sort, church services, etc…, the end purpose is not only to have a full belly or smarter people or cleaner buildings (although this is all that may happen many times), the end result is to hopefully, by some means, if only a few out of hundreds, become disciples who worship Jesus! This, I believe, is what defines the aspect of essential activity. It’s the one thing that should be marked out as the overall goal of our labor. Sure, there will be secondary goals that are really important, but what is that one thing that makes a difference to God’s Kingdom and has eternal ramifications? The answer is what defines the essential activity of Christian ministry.
The question must then be asked, “How do we know we are actually making disciples who worship Jesus in the context of Christian ministry?” It is entirely possible to be well meaning and have good intentions and not be effective in our efforts or approach. There are certain actions that can be made, purposeful, planned actions that facilitate such a process.
The first (not in order of importance) is that of discipleship. When we view discipleship from a biblical perspective, we see that this is not a suggestion, it’s a command. Knowing this should invoke a sense of importance to all people within the Christian community to realize and facilitate the process or action of making disciples. Matthew 28:19-20 recalls the command to “go and makes disciples”. Lucky for us, Jesus didn’t give us a command without giving us some guidelines for success in this endeavor. Our disciples should be Christians first and foremost. Although this isn’t specified in Matthew 28, it is safe to imply this. As George Barna points out, “Without the relationship made possible by the acceptance of His gift, a person cannot progress as a disciple…” Secondly, as mentioned above, there must be action involved on the part of the mentor and the disciple to “go”. Both should be in the ongoing act, through the routine of their lives, of evangelizing and “setting the believers an example in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity”. Third, going hand in hand with the first mandate mentioned for discipleship, the disciple should be baptized as per Matthew 28. This is a public confession and internal cleansing that makes for a fresh start in the journey of discipleship. Taking our cue from our church fathers, we can see the relationship of Ambrose and Augustine (5th century Mentor and disciple) and how they viewed baptism in relationship to the discipleship process. “After Augustine made his profession of faith, he wrote to Ambrose sharing the news of his conversion, submitted his name for baptism… and requested advice on what he could read to grow in his new faith…Ambrose had a lasting influence on Augustine. When Augustine became Presbyter in Hippo in 391, one...
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