Yes, There Really Is a Narrow Entry
Saleama A. Ruvalcaba
Saturday morning has become my favorite day of the week. Not because I can sleep in late (which I have no idea what that means anyway), but because it is now the day I meet early, with my discipleship group. A group of women, four of us total, meets each week to discuss our reading material, our weekly Bible reading and recite the Scripture verse for the week. Since becoming a Christian almost ten years ago, I have been in Bible College, I am in seminary, I have been in various Bible study or book studies, however, this is the first time I am in a discipleship group. This is also the first time I have been a member of a church that has such a strong emphasis on discipleship – in a way that the Bible describes discipleship.
Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…”
How many of us realize this verse is actually a command? Yet, we speak this verse loosely. How many of us utter this verse to someone else, either through preaching, or writing, or prayer – have actually been discipled or discipling someone? I’ll be first at keeping my hands low. I have used that verse numerous times to others, yet I had no idea what it truly meant to be discipled. Discipleship is investing your time to grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ, at the same time; to disciple someone is to invest your life into equipping new believers. Following Jesus Christ is a sacrifice; therefore discipleship is a sacrifice that many of us are not willing to make. This is a church issue as well as a personal issue.
If leaders in the church have never understood the importance of discipleship, it is unlikely it will carry out into the church’s core values. At the same time, a new believer who does not understand what it takes to follow Christ, has no capacity to understand discipleship if there is no one to guide him or her. In a survey conducted by Center for Church Effectiveness, six out of ten church members said their spiritual lives were stagnant. As Christians, we should be growing closer to Jesus Christ every day. As a ten-year Christian, I should be closer to Christ than I was ten-years ago, or five-years ago, or even last year!
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Unfortunately, there a too many of us out here who are simply striving for personal success, instead of striving for the expansion of God’s kingdom. We do not have time to invest in the lives of others. We are too busy trying to reach for the stars. Well, look at this amazing figure from “Growing Up” How To Be A Disciple Who Makes Disciples, by Robby Gallaty,
The evangelist is on a mission to make converts. As you can see in the first year the evangelist reached 365 people, whereas the discipler reached only 2, and the disciple group of 4, reach only 3. But pay close attention as the years go on. At the end of sixteen years, the disciple group of four has reached and discipled 43,046,721 compared to the evangelist who made converts of 5,840. The evangelist was more concerned with addition, instead of multiplication. I read a pastor’s church bio a few years ago and he boasted on the number of people he preaches to weekly. That is fine. But how many of those people have been discipled or discipling someone else?
Luke 6:40 ” A disciple is not greater than his teacher, but everyone when fully trained will be like his teacher.”
After investing thirty years of ministry and tens of millions of dollars in facilities, and programs, Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church publicly apologized to his congregation for failing to make disciples.(Growing Up p.8) That had to be a humbly experience. However, like Willow Creek, we all fall prey of attracting people more than helping people grow in their faith. We all fall prey to believing God is blessing our ministry based on numbers. We look at other ministries and assume the hand of God is there. We foolishly forget that we have the power to make things happen on our own. Just because it looks good on the outside, it doesn’t mean God is in the midst. Should we covet a drug dealer’s mansion? Should we covet the big business that is embezzling money? Should we covet the pastor’s megachurch even though there is sin riddled all through it? We need a wakeup call. We need to refocus. We need to be more concerned with investing in our personal growth – and the growth of other believers.
2 Timothy 2:2 ” You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. “
The dicipleship group I am part of is the d4 group mentioned in the above figure. If we stay on the right track, we will disciple many people. The leader of my group was in a disciple group. Now she leads a disciple group. This is a one-year program. It is not for the faint. It is not something to fill our calendar with. It’s a sacrifice and commitment.
It is not like I have nothing else to do. I certainly don’t need to add anything else to my plate. I was asked to join a women’s Bible study that I turned down. However, this discipleship group I was willing to make adjustments for, because I realize how important being a disciple is in my walk with Jesus Christ.
Our small group of four might not make it the full year. We might dwindle down to three or two. That’s because it is not easy to follow Christ. We all want to be Christians, but how many of us really want to be a disciple? The word Christian appears in the Bible three times (Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, 1 Peter 4:16). However, the word disciple appears 269 times in the New Testament. Jesus came to make disciples. Next year after I complete my discipleship group, I will then lead a group for a year. Then the women I disciple will lead a group, and the cycle continues, as we continue to learn and teach others. New Christians are less likely to leave church or walk away from Jesus Christ when someone else has invested into their lives.
Sure – I love to write. I pray for my blog and for my readers. However, when it is all said and done, my true discipleship comes when I personally sacrifice my life as a disciple, and when I invest in the lives of other Christians.
A disciple is a leaner who is committed to growing and learning. Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ?
“God did not call me to be successful, He called me to be faithful.” Mother Teresa