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The church as a discipleship movement


Etim Ekong

Discipleship is obligatory, and that is why Jesus, the man with the nail prints in His hands, said: “therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19-20). As a church, we must know that discipleship is not always convenient.

Though it was further and there was a hostile environment, Jesus, urged by the Spirit, decided to go by the way of Samaria after He leaving Judea and Galilee (John 4:4).

Paul listened to the Spirit in a vision, though he had other plans – “come over into Macedonia and help us” (Acts 16:9). After Paul had seen the vision, he and those who were with him got ready at once to leave Troas for Macedonia, concluding that God had called them to preach the gospel to the brethren in Macedonia. (cf. Acts 16:10).

Discipleship requires sensitivity to the Spirit. Deacon Philip left a revival and went into the desert but there heard – “Go join thyself unto the Chariots” (Acts 8:26-29). It was through this way that Philip was able to tell the eunuch the good news about Jesus (cf. Acts 8:34-35).

A household was saved and filled with the Spirit because Peter dared to break from Custom and culture and obeyed the Lord (Acts 10:20). We need to examine our ways of life for effective discipleship. Discipleship may be costly.

Listening to the voice of the Spirit brought Paul and Silas to Philippi, but it also meant beatings, imprisonment, bleeding backs, and stocks (Acts 16:23).

It meant death for Stephen (Acts 8:59). James’ death and imprisonment for Peter (Acts 12:2-3). And banishment for John (Rev.1: 9).

The church in our generation might have failed in discipleship strategy because of seeing discipleship as a one-way traffic. Our discipleship strategy must be holistic, if we are to succeed.

An evangelistic or discipleship lifestyle can be developed in the body of believers that will cause discipleship to be the breath of the church and the secret of its remarkable growth. Before this can take place, we must see ourselves as one, irrespective of denominational inclinations. Churches should not struggle for supremacy.

The lay and the ordained must work together. Every minister of the gospel must see himself or herself as the key to keeping the church focused on discipleship.

A pastor must do it by his or her leadership, faith, and personal passion. Discipleship is about relationship with others.

Relationships can only be developed through devotions, care, and by encouraging each other towards living with Christ-like characteristics in our everyday lives.

Christians should take a lead in acts of radical discipleship through hospitality, social Philanthropy and ministry alongside the poor, unemployed and homeless.

This method can draw our youths closer to the church for proper indoctrination. It can also help to put in check the rate of cultism, robbery, kidnapping and other vices in the society.

For this to bring a desired result, there must be an aspiration and resolve to be better Disciples of Christ, individually, and a better discipleship movement corporately.

On spiritual development in churches, emphasis should be given to discipleship class. Bible study should be given priority attention in all churches. Making disciples is not an option, but a responsibility for all believers.

The growth and multiplication of the church is incumbent upon all the churches taking this commission to heart. As a discipleship movement, the church should live out a Gospel of grace and generosity. All believers must rise up to this challenge as “servants of the servant Christ” and by so doing, embody the good news of His gospel.


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