“Go therefore and make disciples…” – Jesus (Matt 28:19)
This past Sunday we returned to our series through Titus at Mystery Church. You can listen to all the messages in our series “Healthy Church” here.
The premise of Titus, and of our time studying the book, is that of transitioning from a young church into a mature, healthy and vibrant community of Christ Followers. We have looked at the need for becoming healthy people who, lead by healthy leaders while living aware of the unhealthy practices and people that pull us away from God and the gospel. This week we examined “Healthy Community”. What are the characteristics of a church committed to loving Jesus? We listed five from Titus 2:1-10. They were as follows: 1.The Gospel is taught and lived 2.Disciples are Made 3.Disciples Mature 4.Disciples Multiply 5. The Gospel is Evident and Enticing.
Jesus’ church is the intended context and means by which people, meet Jesus, believe in him and join him on his mission to transform the world through disciples being made. Disciple making is what Jesus calls his followers to. It is through this that God is glorified and we are most satisfied in life. But for many this process, although having experienced it ourselves, remains a struggle for us. My hope in this series is to help us think through what it entails for God to multiply disciples through our faithful efforts. We will look at some practical, simple steps we can all take to grow as disciple makers in the coming days. My prayer is that many people will meet Jesus through our efforts and that our experience of his power and grace in the process will result in an explosion of confidence and joy in the Lord.
So lets get started and to keep it really simple lets begin with just one step; the most vital and most overlooked and under trusted step, prayer.
Disciple Making Starts with Prayer
The prophet Jonah said it best, “Salvation belongs to the Lord!” (Jonah 2:9). Anyone who is a Christian is one only because God, in his love and mercy, saved them. Think about it. No one prays “Thank you Lord that I made myself a Christian. That I was able to save my own soul and raise my self from the dead.” No we acknowledge His work on our behalf to bring him to himself. We worship him with thankfulness and gratitude for his amazing grace! However, when it comes to sharing the gospel and inviting people to follow Jesus we often overlook this fact, leaving the weight of the work of evangelism to fall upon our own efforts not his.
Certainly every Christian has in his or her prayers asked God to save someone. A friend or family member, maybe even a stranger or someone we’ve simply heard about. We want God to bring joy and life to others. We want to see them rescued out of sin and circumstances. The question isn’t so much do we pray as it is how and how often do we intentionally ask for the Lord to save certain people. More so how often in prayer do we acknowledge and repent of our sinful disobedience in not making disciples. How often have you outwardly asked for God save a person we know, while inwardly desiring for it to occur apart from your participation in the process? I know I have. “Lord please save ______, and please do it without involving or inconveniencing me”.
So how should we pray? Here are a few practical suggestions for praying in such a way that we begin see people come to Christ.
1. Pray intentionally. I bet God has already laid a person or people on your heart to share the gospel with. If not, that’s the first place you start, asking The Spirit to make known people in your life that would be receptive to the gospel. Who is it? Now write their name(s) down and start to ask the Lord to begin his work of revealing himself to them and opening their hearts to receive the good news before you even say anything. That’s how he works. When he puts someone on your mind chances are good he’s already at work. Commit to praying for that person, daily, weekly and monthly. If you know personal needs pray for those, if not that’s ok. The point is to be intentional in praying for the same person/people, and to pray not just for their welling being, but for their salvation.
2. Pray continually. Don’t stop. Set it into your regular routine. Put a reminder on your phone. Post it where you can see it. It’s as simple as a name on a post-it note stuck to your mirror. Don’t stop. Don’t give up. And also don’t beat yourself up when you fail to. God saves in his time, whom he wills, but let us pester him with our pleading for the souls of people.
3. Pray according to God’s character and promises. Throughout scripture we see the people of God reminding God of his person and promises. Is this because God forgets? Certainly not, but we do. When we pray according to who he is and what he says he will do, we are putting our dependence and hope in him. We are strengthening our steadfastness in prayer and we are readying our hearts to give him the glory when salvation comes.
4. Pray expectantly. Do you believe Jesus saves people? Do you believe the gospel is powerful to save? Do you trust in the goodness of God to do so? He is faithful and steadfast. We are the product of prayer. Your salvation is the fruit of faithful men and women pleading with the Lord on your behalf. Pray believing that God saves and will save. Set your faith firmly in the God who loves to save and ask trusting he will do so.
6. Pray compliantly. God saves and God sends. The Father’s chosen means of saving people is through the sharing of the gospel verbally with people, inviting them to believe the gospel and follow Jesus. We must pray owning our part in the process. This means repenting for not, submitting to his Lordship and obeying his command to do so. Ask the Lord to strengthen you with his strength. Commit to the Lord to personally go. Share with The Spirit your plan to do so. Ask for his presence in the process and invite him to create opportunities. And here is the rub, don’t just make excuses. Ask him to ready the soul and then be faithful to sow the seed. And when it doesn’t appear that anything happened, or when you are despairing the lack of believing responses, take that to him as well. Share your fears and frustration, confess the desire to quite, and then commit yourself to continue to process, trusting that he is faithful and just. When you feel the weight of the work and the strength of sin to resist, let that lead to worship and awe in the love and wonder of God to save you.
I believe there are people right now in each of our spheres of life that God is reading to save, and I am praying that as we risk faithfully and tell others about Jesus in the coming days and weeks, asking them to respond in faith and inviting them into Christian community, we will see God work powerfully in our homes, workplace, city and in our own lives as well, giving birth new Christians, life to our church and exciting us with a deep desire to evangelize not-yet-believers.
Lord, make us faithful and make us fruitful. Add to our numbers those who are being saved and do so in a way that you get the glory and we get great joy in you. Amen.
Click Part 2 of Multiplication