Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

15 Dec 2016

Making Room for the Mission: Discipleship and Church Planting


To be “Christian” is to be a disciple (learner, apprentice, understudy) of Jesus Christ. We watch, learn, and then imitate. Jesus’ ministry was marked by the proclamation of the good news of the Kingdom of God. He called people everywhere to repent and believe, to be reconciled into submission to God. Paul tells us we have this same “ministry of reconciliation.” We are Christ’s ambassadors, carrying his message and carrying out his mission. 2 Corinthians 5 says,

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Christians are ambassadors and churches are embassies representing Christ’s interests in the world. We must stand faithfully with God’s message–be reconciled through Jesus!

In general, talking about “the mission” is exciting. We’re thrilled with the thought of transforming our friends and neighbors with the gospel. Visions of baptisms and church plants dance through our heads. Real life is another story. The mission is messy. Sin, the Flesh, and the Devil don’t tap out quite as easily as we planned. Investing in the lives of other people to see them love and follow the Lord is hard work. Church planting is not as triumphant as you plan. Disciple making is definitely not as glamorous as you dream. The mission walks hand in hand with struggle.

One aspect of the struggle of mission is that we are forced to make hard decisions. How will we spend our time? Who will we spend our time with? How will we spend our money? When do we get to see our “old” friends? The list goes on. The mission impacts your entire life, every element of it.

To be effective in making disciples and planting churches (the mission) we have to make tough choices. There isn’t enough time to see everyone and enjoy everything. People and schedules are like Legos–there are only so many spots to connect. If you’re committed to the mission Jesus (our King) has given, then some spots you used to fill with Christians have to be opened for non-Christians and new Christians. You can’t effectively tackle the mission of making new disciples without cutting out relationships with some mature disciples. You can’t plant new churches without leaving established churches.

Our actions tell us what we truly value most. Perhaps it’d be worthwhile to sit down with a pen and paper and ask yourself, “Do my __________ (spending habits, friendships, scheduling choices etc.) prove I value making new disciples?” Inevitably, some things you enjoy will come into conflict with the mission. When they do, remember Paul’s words to Timothy: “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer” (2 Timothy 2:4).