Before Jesus ascended into Heaven, he gave Christ followers the command to “make disciples.”(Matthew 28:19-20) He stated that His command was based upon the fact that He possessed all authority in Heaven and on Earth.(Matthew 28:18) Yet, when one examines the decline in conversions and church members in Southern Baptist churches, it is apparent that we as a denomination are not being obedient to the com- mand to “make disciples” in the Great Commission. In this post, I offer five major reasons why we do not make disciples.
We don’t love God. Jesus told His disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”(John
14:15 ESV) He is not implying that we will live a life of perfection here, but He refers to the overall posture or trajectory of our lives. We turn from loving ourselves to loving Christ. We turn from loving our
sin, including sins of omission, to loving Christ. If we encounter someone who repeatedly sins in a particular area and never repents of that sin, we would say that the individual does not show evidence of repentance and is probably not a disciple; however, the willful refusal to make disciples is a sin of omission
against Christ. Can we claim to love and follow Jesus and yet willfully disobey His command to make dis-
ciples in light of John 14:15? If we love God, we will make disciples.
We don’t love people. Paul states that the love of Christ compels him to share the gospel of reconcilia-
tion as an ambassador of Christ.(2 Corinthians 5:11-20) This love refers both to his love for Jesus and to
his love for people who don’t know Christ. When Jesus encounters the leper in the Gospel of Mark, His
love moves Him to touch and heal the man.(Mark 1:40-45) The Good Samaritan’s love moves him to act
and save the man left wounded on the side of the road.(Luke 10:33-34) Can we say we love our neighbor
and not share the gospel with him/her? Can we say we love people and not seek to lead them to Jesus? If
we love people, we will make disciples.
- We don’t think sharing the gospel is essential for salvation. A recent poll states that 92% of evangelicals believe that people are saved only through Jesus Christ; however, another survey of Protestant church attenders indicates that 48% of Protestants believe that people can obtain eternal life by sincerely following other religions apart from Christianity. Do we really believe that disciples sharing the gospel and making disciples is the only way people will come to saving faith in Christ? Do we think people can find God through other religions as long as they are sincere? Do we think people will receive the gospel apart from the church pursuing the Great Commission by seeking to make disciples? If we believe in the exclusivity of Christ and the need to share the gospel verbally, we will make disciples.
We don’t share the gospel because we are afraid. Some self-professed Christ followers do not share
the gospel because they are afraid of rejection by the unchurched. They might also fear losing a relationship if they share the gospel. It is significant that Jesus’ last words in the Great Commission are, “And be-
hold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”(Matthew 28:20 ESV) Christ promises His presence to
allay our fears. We can also take encouragement from the evidence of how the Holy Spirit empowered
and emboldened early Christians, sending them out to witness boldly.(Acts 4:31) Do we really believe
that the Holy Spirit will empower our witness of the gospel? Do we believe in His ability to bring the
spiritually dead to life? If we believe in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, we will be bold witnesses of the gospel.
We don’t share the gospel because we do not feel sufficiently equipped. Another reason some people
who claim the name of Christ do not share the gospel is they feel they lack training or knowledge to
share with people. First, we must remember our role in sharing Christ. We are called to be witnesses
who give testimony regarding Jesus and how He changed our lives.(Acts 1:8) We are also called to know
God’s Word and the content of the gospel so that we can share God’s Word. Paul told Timothy, “All
Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training
in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”(2 Timothy
3:16-17 ESV) We do need to rely on Scripture and the content of the gospel found in Scripture in order
to make disciples. Regular intake of Scripture will help to equip us for making disciples. Do we really be-
lieve that our role is to be witnesses? Do we really believe that the gospel of Scripture can change lives?
If we believe in the power of the gospel and the Word of God, we will use Scripture to make disciples.
Dr. Tim McKnight is serving as an Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at Anderson University. Dr. McKnight has an earned Ph.D. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and has served as a youth pastor and senior pastor in several outstanding SBC churches.
You can find the link to Dr. McKnight's original post here: 5 Reasons We Don't Make Disciples
From Kevin: It is great to have Dr. McKnight sharing his posts here on LYMFB. Also keep your eyes peeled on www.youthministryroundtable.com, Dr. McKnights new project. Starting in 2015 you can find some guest posts from myself appearing on there!