It’s no news flash that the number of people who identify as Christian is in decline and has been for some time now. Some would attribute this to selfish desires rather than a generous heart. Others might refer to the Bible and the number of times that God’s people turned their back on Him. “So, perhaps we are just in ‘another cycle,’” says Christian ministries volunteer Todd Shupe. “There may be some truth in both of these explanations, but I believe there is something much deeper and profound.”
The church universal has failed to create disciples. Many church-going Christians consider themselves to be disciples. “It is great to attend church on Sunday; we attend to worship, pray, sing, tithe, and fellowship,” says former LSU lab leader Todd Shupe. “However, a disciple is not a passive sport and it certainly is not contained to one hour a week on Sunday.” The natural question at this point is what is your definition of a disciple? Jesus answered this when he first encountered his disciples and said, “Follow me.” My definition of a disciple is one that follows Jesus. Colossians 2:6 reads, “Just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.”
The heart of discipleship is The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” God is calling us to spread the Good News. We are called to be His witness and to “make disciples of all nations,” says Todd Shupe.
I think it is important here to recognize that a person cannot disciple another until he or she is a disciple. You simply cannot give to others what you do not have yourself. A disciple has the love of God in his heart and a desire to fish for men. He generously shares his prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness to build up the church. “I urge you to prayerfully assess your spiritual life. Talk to your pastor, spouse, and close friends,” says Todd Shupe, LSU wood sciences expert. “Continue to feed yourself with the Word. Discipleship is a life-long process.”
We should always be seeking to grow closer to Christ. Feed yourself with the body and blood of Christ. Drink the living water from Jacob’s well. Then, you can pass along what you have and can feed His sheep. Prayerfully consider how God is calling you to be His disciple and how you can help build His kingdom.