Go, Baptize and Teach

Posted: April 25, 2011 in Disciple, Discipleship, great commission, Mentor
At this moment in time we are only one generation away from the death of Christianity!
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He left His disciples what we refer to as The Great Commission.  In Matthew 28:19, Jesus tells them this: “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…”
So, why do I say we are one generation away from the death of Christianity?  Simply put, Christ’s Church, as a whole, is failing to fulfill the Great Commission to GO and MAKE disciples.
Without Discipleship, believers do not know how to live out their faith.  A disciple is more than a convert.  A disciple is someone that has a passionate relationship with Jesus Christ and is looking for someone to join them on their faith journey and model for them how to live out their faith in all aspects of their lives.
The number one reason people leave their congregation is they have no real relationships that inspire them to grow.  Sure people may like them, shake hands on Sunday morning and even talk about their families and such, but without authentic relationships, church becomes routine.  People go out of obligation to God, but are not there because of a love for His people.  Then one day they are disappointed and simply stop coming!
This holds true for young people as well!  A recent Barna Research study showed that on average, 61% of today’s youth will leave the church their first year of college!  Lifeway Resources has this statistic at 70%!  When interviewing many of these youth, most of them said they did not intend on leaving the church, they just felt drawn away due to lack of authentic relationships.  Since many of these youth had attended church for years with the families, their parents and pastors most likely mixed in some mentoring or discipleship which kept them coming.  With the influence of the parents and the fact of living with them, they naturally attended church with the family.  Once the freedom of leaving home came, they realized that what they were part of at church was not benefiting their overall spiritual growth.  They could see the flaws and lack of authenticity of the “Christians” they knew, both in church and in their communities.  They did not want to be part of that hypocrisy anymore.  So they walk away!  Sadly, less than half ever find their way back to the Church!
You see, parents may raise their kids in church, and may even try to mentor and disciple them to the best of their abilities, but as they get out on their own, if no-one comes along side of them to mentor them and eventually disciple them, this next generation will be lost and Christianity as we know it will cease to exist!
In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul writes to Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”  Paul is simply telling Timothy to mentor and disciple others, as Paul himself did for Timothy, so that they will in turn mentor and disciple others! Before too long, we will reach the entire world with the Good News!
When I was young, in my high school years, I attended a church in a neighboring town. During that time, I developed very few relationships in the church.  I cannot recall one person who ever came along side to mentor, disciple or even to get to know me.
Once I was out of high school, I too stopped going to church as did those in the Barna and Lifeway research studies.  Shortly after college, I was married and began attending the church where my wife Lisa and I were married.  I developed a couple of friendships, but still no deep, authentic relationships.  We stopped going to church again when we moved away from that area.  Several years into our marriage, with no church home and no authentic Christ-centered relationships, our marriage began to crumble.  We came to breaking point in our marriage and knew we needed to get back into church and develop some Christ-centered relationships or our family would suffer even more.  At that point, we were invited by some neighbors to visit their church and over the last 10 years God has developed in me a heart for mentoring others.
My journey began with Men, seeing where God had called us to be the spiritual leaders of our families.  Society has twisted the role of men into something far less!  Along the way, I developed a heart for kids and families as well.  During that time, God was molding my heart for what He calls all believers: to GO and MAKE disciples!  Thanks to God, I am now in several mentoring relationships with young men and a couple of them have reached the point of discipleship!
There will always be someone further along in their relationship with Christ than us.  Also, there will always be others who are not as far in their faith as we are.  Therefore, we are always in a position to mentor and be mentored.  Once mentoring has reached a certain point, discipleship can begin!  I will go into more detail on this shortly!
So how do we as the Church get back on track?  Every church MUST develop a culture of mentoring AND discipleship to begin fulfilling the Great Commission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to GO and MAKE disciples!
I’d now like to define both Mentoring and Discipleship.  Many people have spoken and written about either Mentoring or Discipleship, but have used these two terms as if they mean the same thing.  In fact, they do not!  This difference is why I feel most have missed the mark in making disciples.
Mentoring is building a relationship with someone and living out your life in Christ as your relationship grows.  Coming along side of them and truly getting to know them.  As you get to know someone at a deeper level, trust builds and you have the opportunity to share how God has molded your life and help them discover how they can be transformed by a relationship with Jesus Christ!
Paul encouraged mentoring relationships when he said in 1 Corinthians 4 & 11, “follow my example.”  Paul was not only teaching them how to live out their faith, he was building trust and mentoring the Corinthians to follow his example as he follows the example of Christ!  A successful mentoring relationship will always have trust as its foundation.
Mentoring relationships can last for a while, or may grow very quickly.  It all depends on the people involved.  Trust can only be built on the timeline of the person you are mentoring.  It can never be demanded, only earned!  Mentoring not only helps the person being mentored, it holds us accountable to the Christ life we have chosen.
At some point in the mentoring relationship, the one being mentored will reach a point where they have a relationship with Christ and are becoming passionate about living their life for Christ.  This is the point where discipleship begins.
Discipleship can never begin until someone is ready to receive the teachings of Christ and apply them to their lives.  Many Christians still need to be mentored as their relationship with Christ has not become a passionate, driving force in their lives.
A mentor takes someone from milk to where they are ready for the solid food of discipleship!
So, mentoring is a relationship that builds trust and takes someone to the point of becoming a passionate follower of Christ.  Discipleship can then begin to teach the disciple how to understand and apply God’s Word to their lives as they develop an intimate relationship with God.
At a recent service in our church, the speaker read us this African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together!”  Biblically, God’s people are seen as walking together, with God at the center.
I’ve been discovering that the mentoring relationship is most critical, not because it is necessarily the most important, but because it is the most neglected!  Most people are intimidated by the word discipleship.  On one hand, they might say, “I don’t know enough to disciple someone.”  On the other hand they might say, “I don’t know enough to be a disciple.”  The term discipleship has been elevated in the church to a term for only the spiritually mature.  The problem with that is, how can you become spiritually mature without discipleship?
Mentoring becomes the first step to discipleship, building that trust relationship as a foundation required for discipleship to happen.
As I began preparing for this session, God began to reveal to me, from scripture, many truths in regards to both mentoring and discipleship.  Back to the Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20, “All authority has been given to Me”, that statement proves he can give us the following command to, “go and make disciples”.  This is our missionary command to a mentoring lifestyle wherever we go, whether that be in our homes or across the world, we are to make disciples, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”, showing evidence of the Trinity, “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”, that’s discipleship, and “I am with you always to the very end of the age.”  The Holy Spirit is the guiding force and ever present in our lives.
So, this is our mission…Go, Baptize and Teach.
–      When we Go, we are on our mentoring mission.
–      Baptize is the convergence of Mentoring and Discipleship.  This is illustrated in Peter’s moment of revelation when Jesus asks his disciples who they say He is and Peter replies with a deeper understanding, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!”
–      And Teach – this is where discipleship begins!
The Bible illustrates many mentoring relationships that became discipleship.  These relationships became the culture of those involved.  In fact, it became who they were, and the ones receiving discipleship naturally began to mentor others.  And that is how mentoring and discipleship becomes a culture!
Jethro invested in the life of Moses.  Moses invested in the lives of Joshua and the elders of Israel.  Eli invested into the life of Samuel, and Samuel invested in the life of Saul and then David.  David then passed it on.  Elijah invested in Elisha.  And many other prophets of the Old Testament also led this example of investing in others lives to begin discipleship training.
Before choosing the Apostles, Jesus went to the mountain and prayed all night.  When morning came, He gathered His followers and chose 12 men to be His intimate disciples, also called the Apostles.  Jesus modeled for us this lifestyle of mentoring with these 12 men.  At the moment of discovery in Matthew 16:15-20 where Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”, Jesus began to disciple them, teaching them the deeper understanding of His death and what was to be accomplished.  Jesus knew that God had revealed to them who He was and He could see that they were ready to dig deeper and understand fully the Gospel of Christ!
After Jesus’ ascension, the disciples began living out this life of mentoring others.  Those relationships, built on trust and Truth, are the foundation of The Church!   As they began to spread out, Barnabas invested in the life of a young man named Saul, who later became Paul – the man who wrote much of the New Testament!  Paul invested in the lives of many, including Timothy who continued to pass on this culture of mentoring and discipleship wherever they went!
There are three types of mentoring I’d like to briefly share with you showing different levels of investment:
1)   A Low Level Investment – This is where some mentoring happens but is unintentional.  It could be where someone catches you making good choices based on your integrity and character in Christ.  You may or may not ever know if anyone is gleaning from your example, but you are living out your faith in front of others allowing them to learn from your example.  We are all involved in this type of mentoring!
2)   A Mid Level Investment – This is where the mentoring is intentional, but may not be on a consistent schedule.  The mentor may be called occasionally for counsel or consultation regarding a matter in another person’s life.  To some degree, many of our relationships can involve this type of mentoring as we grow closer to others and share our lives with them.
3)   A High Level Investment – This is where the mentoring relationship is intentional and the mentor functions as a coach, regularly investing in a person’s life.  This type of mentoring is where you are intentionally building trust and consistently aiming them to a deeper understanding of their relationship with God.  Discipleship usually develops out of this type of investment.
All of these levels of investment require us to show integrity and our love for Christ.  You will usually begin every relationship on the low level, and pray for God’s guidance in seeking those He would like you to invite to the second and third levels!  Therefore, every relationship we have can and should be in one of these three categories.  Many of these relationships will never blossom into discipleship, but as you begin to live this lifestyle, a few will begin to rise up and seek you out.  Another way to look at this is that every relationship we have must fall somewhere in the Great Commission to GO, BAPTIZE and TEACH!
The goal of any mentor should never be to replicate one’s self in others.  The goal must always be the formation of Christ-likeness.  Again, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11 to “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”  Mentoring and Discipleship relationships must always have Christ as the foundation!
There is no step-by-step program that will work for everyone when it comes to these relationships.  Every person is unique.  Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
My oldest daughter, Kayla, has had several mentoring and discipleship relationships as she is a very outgoing person.  She loves to talk to people!  She also has no problem digging deep with just about anyone she talks to.  In her school, she often navigates towards people that are unsure of themselves or are sure they know everything.  She has had people wonder why she smiles all the time and is generally nice to everyone.  That’s a great way to open up a door to build a relationship!
Now my middle daughter, Haley, is a very reserved young lady.  Trust must be built before she will let most people in at a deeper level.  Once that trust is established, she is a loyal friend and will be for life…as long as the trust level is maintained or grows!
My youngest daughter, Chloe, was saved at age 4, baptized last month, and is now seeking to deepen her relationship with God at age 7!  She is a joy to be around and loves singing praises to God!  She shared her favorite praise song in her public school at a talent show to a loud applause from friends and teachers.  She is learning at a young age to live her life in Christ for everyone to see!
You see, all three of my kids are very different people, but each are being mentored and are mentoring by the way they are developing relationships.
To be a mentor, one must asses the individual’s personality and discover, over time, how best to serve them as a mentor.  We may not be the best mentor for some, and that is ok.  God will sort that out as we pray to Him for guidance.  Prayer is very important as God will reveal to you how best to mentor them.  That may even require you to introduce them to someone that may be better suited to mentor that individual.  God will also reveal when those you mentor are ready to go deeper and begin discipleship.
There are many ways to actually begin a mentoring relationship.  You can simply:
1)   Ask them what they enjoy
2)   Encourage them
3)   Ask them what is on their hearts today
4)   Shake their hand or give a hug
There are so many ways to initiate a relationship, and I am sure you have ways that you have discovered and enjoy.  Once a mentoring type relationship has been established, you can begin to share what God is doing your life and ask what he sees God doing around him.  As they begin to share, you can come back to those things important to them in future meetings as you develop a foundation of trust and authentic friendship with one another.  You could offer to read a chapter out of the Bible and discuss with them what God revealed to you and ask them the same.  Have them over to dinner with your family.  The possibilities are endless!
As trust grows, the person you are mentoring may ask you more specific questions about your faith, seeking to go deeper in understanding.  It’s at this moment when they are ready to begin a discipleship relationship with you.  Trust is established, they know where you stand in your faith, they know you care about them, they like spending time with you, and they are simply asking to have a deeper relationship with Christ, the one you follow and the one they have grown to love!  It is at this point where you need to be clear that a commitment is being established between the two of you where you need to schedule time with this person – maybe weekly or bi-weekly…that will depend on each of your schedules.  The main reason for this is to have a consistent time together to teach and discover what they are learning along the way.
The trust level is deep at this point in a relationship.  That will drive us to a deeper relationship with Christ as we seek Him for discernment on how to best disciple this person God has drawn to us.  An incredible bonus in this type of relationship building is that as we seek to disciple others, God is providing discipleship for us along the way!  We seek to bless others and draw them to Christ and He blesses us in return!  I love it when God does that!
The Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the establishment of the early church at Pentecost occurred around 30 AD.  The Bible has records of mentoring and discipleship through approximately 90 AD when 1st,2nd & 3rd John were written.  Somewhere between 90 AD and today, the Church has lost it’s passion for making disciples or have simply given up not knowing how.  Many people are seeking to be in mentoring relationships, but when we fail to engage them, they become discouraged and leave.  Some may move to another church while many assume all churches are the same, so they stop trying.  This is a tragedy!  This is why we need to develop a culture of mentoring and discipleship now…in this generation!
True mentoring can never be a program, it must become the culture!  A culture in the church can be defined as the value system handed down through generations for the growth of the individuals and the group, expressed through words and actions.  If we were to develop a program for mentoring and discipleship, we may or may not reach this generation for Christ.  Relationships are rarely deep based on program alone.  But, if we, the Church, create a culture where mentoring is a part of who we are, and discipleship is something we strive for, that culture will define the Church and outlive our generation.  Future generations will be mentored and discipled into the image of Christ!  How awesome will it be when this culture spreads to reach every nation!
At the end of our lives or when Christ returns, don’t we all want to hear the Father say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.  You have done well with what you have been given.  Come into my presence and spend eternity with me!”  And won’t it be great to see how many souls are in heaven because of a culture that God created, and we re-discovered in trying to fulfill Jesus’ commission to Go, Baptize and Teach!  God has convinced me, will you join me?

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