By Kris Segrest
DMin, Lead Pastor, First Baptist Church, Wylie
God’s Church, which is the bride of Christ, His hands and feet on the earth, is going to be faithful to God’s intent, we must change our understanding. Like some of you, I grew up ‘going to church’. The church was a good place for me. I really liked being at my church as a kid because we had a gym and a café. It was awesome. So, the church was a place to me, but it was also a program. I was always going to various opportunities at the church. We had Bible study, choirs, and mission teams for any age-group imaginable. In addition to a place and a program, the church was also a place of personalities. There were people I would only see at church. They were my “church friends”. We had little to do with each other outside of church. So, the church was a place, a program, and some personalities to me, but it was something else—a destination. I left the world I lived in, six days a week, to go to church. I’d say this is a pretty typical story for many people who grew up in “church”. Frankly, this is the problem of the Church today.
The true Church is not a place, a program, or a personalities—it is made up of disciples—it is people. Disciples are people who have trusted Christ as their Savior and Lord and purpose to follow Jesus daily. By virtue of being a disciple, they compose Christ’s Church. Notice these essential characteristics of disciples:
- DISCIPLES ARE CALLED BY JESUS. The word church means ekklessia meaning, the called out ones. Look through the gospels and you will see Jesus regularly calling people to himself. Jesus is walking beside the Sea of Galilee and he calls Peter and his brothers (Matthew 4); Jesus sees a tax collector named Levi and he calls him; Jesus sees a short dude (my hero) named Zacheaus and he calls him (Luke 19). Do you remember when Jesus called you to himself? It might have been through the appeal of a pastor’s message, a Sunday School teacher, a close friend; but hear me, if you are truly one of the called out ones…Jesus did the calling. It was not your idea to introduce yourself to Jesus. It was His idea to call you. He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).
- DISCIPLES ARE CHANGED BY JESUS. They are changed by His Spirit. John 14:16 -17 says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. What has the Holy Spirit caused you to do lately? The Spirit is always changing people.
- DISCIPLES ARE COMMITTED TO JESUS. These early Christians were outlaws and bandits. The strength of the early church was found in the fact that it was a struggle to follow Christ in a world so radically opposed to Him. In our time, we are faced with these same issues. Early disciples knew Jesus was serious when He said in Luke 9:23, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
- DISCIPLES CARRY OUT THE MISSION OF JESUS. Jesus saved us to execute His mission on the earth. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) So one day, you and I, individually, will give an account to Jesus as to whether or not we did this one thing…MAKE DISCIPLES. Are you carrying out His mission? Can you point to some people who have become disciples as a result of your disciple-making? Remember, Jesus basically spent most of his time with 12 guys, so I don’t think He’s looking for a quota, just some obedience.
- DISCIPLES ARE CONNECTED TO JESUS’ FAMILY. When a person becomes a Christ-follower, they become a member of His family. Just like physical families, we are born into faith families—the local church. If you are reading this, I challenge you to join a faith family, if you are not in one. If you are in one, but not real consistent, I challenge you to become consistent. Hebrews 10:25 says, “…not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”