We are not the church. Excuse.
We are not the parents. Excuse.
As I look around, I see Christ-followers passing the responsibility of discipleship to others. The teacher says the parents or the church should disciple. The pastor's actions and words don't emphasize discipleship. Their words and actions shout numbers...we just need more people in the room, so that we have the appearance of success. The teacher or school administrator (public or private) sees a student struggling with anxiety, self-worth, sin or any other heart issue, and he/she says we aren't the church. The doctor cares for a sick child and neglects to address the emotional and spiritual well-being of the child or the parents because that is the job of the church. The checker at the grocery story has the opportunity to speak truth over the young, single mom who is struggling, but chooses not to because that is not her responsibility. The mom walks past her daughter in the hall, but does not intentionally disciple her because she goes to a good, Christian school and church.
When did discipling become the responsibility of others? When did the church decide that discipling wasn't just as important as evangelizing? When did the educator decide that the heart of their students was not just as important as their education? When did the neighbor stop caring for those to the right and to the left? When did the dad decide that raising his son to become a strong, Christian man was not his responsibility, but rather it was the church's? When did we as Christ-followers decide that Matthew 18:19 no longer applies to us?
"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.”
Is it not clear?
The word "go" in the original Greek is a participle and reads "as you are going". Disciple is the imperative. We cannot make disciples. I cannot force someone into following Jesus. BUT, I can disciple. As I am going, disciple.
When I wake up in the morning, I will disciple my children.
When I go to work, I will disciple my students.
When I talk to my sweet friends and neighbors, I will disciple.
When I walk into the church, I will disciple.
When I buy my groceries, I will disciple.
For far too long, we have pushed this responsibility onto others. I cannot control what the pastor believes and does in regards to discipling. I cannot guarantee that the administrators/teachers at my children's schools enter every day with the same passion to disciple as I do. I cannot force my sweet daughters to follow Jesus completely and freely, but I can disciple them. I can speak truth to them. I cannot change my students' behavior in class, but I can serve them and address the heart issue. I cannot solve my friend's marriage problems, but I can love her and speak biblical truth to her.
We cannot count on any institution or single person to be the only person responsible for discipling. We, as Christ-followers, must be all in. All of us. I do my part as a mom, friend, teacher, and neighbor. Church, you do your part, Educators, you do your part. Flight attendant, you do your part. Mail carrier, you do your part.
I believe that it is worth it. The perspective adjustment is worth it because we are talking about the hearts of the next generation. We are talking about giving hope to a hopeless people. We are in the unique position to truly be the hands and feet of Jesus. Discipling is not optional. We should not chose when and whom, but it should be everywhere we go and to everyone we encounter. It is such a responsibility, but the reward is SO worth it.
Christ-Follower. As you are going, disciple.