In studying and praying and observing the church especially here in the West, I have become convinced of two things. First, we do not know what fellowship is, and secondly, we do not know how to make disciples. These are very basic things in the Christian life, things that are essential for the growth and health of the church. However, they are neglected, rejected, scorned, and ignored.
For all our focus on doctrine and on getting what we believe right, we have forgotten that doctrine works its way out in how we live. If we claim to believe sound doctrine but do not live godly, self-denying, holy lives then one of two things is true - either we have believed false doctrine, or we do not believe what we claim to believe! The absence of fellowship and disciple making is only a symptom of problems that lead to churches that are weak, simple minded, and full of sin. In fact, we have churches that are thoroughly post modern and worldy when we should have instead churches that have their minds set on things above and are holy.
I have written (and am still in the process of writing) articles on these topics and have even referenced these things in sermons I have preached. It is interesting to me that the single greatest decline in attendance and membership at our church happened at the end of last year as I preached a series of 24 messages on worship and fellowship. The deeper we peered into the Word of God the more and more we became uncomfortable with our lack of obedience. Our failure in the area of fellowship lead us through a follow up series at the first of the year taken from Haggai in a series titled The Curse of Me-Centered Religion. We then saw people in the church do one of two things - they repented and got right with God and started to fellowship Biblically or they left.
Fellowship is a duty to God and each other. We have settled for the idea that fellowship is any social activity we participate in with other Christians. This is so far from the truth that it is not even funny. The Bible is specific and clear as God gives us a list of things that we are required to do under the heading of fellowship. More on that later.
This week I am introducing a new series of approximately 10 messages taken from the Book of 2 Timothy titled Making Disciples. In these messages I want to take the time to examine what the Bible has to say about the making of disciples. This, just like fellowship, is a command. It is essential for the church and necessary for believers. The hard truth though is that most in our churches do not know how to make disciples. We have believed that witnessing or handing out tracts so that people will be saved is what it means to make disciples. But preaching the gospel is only the first step in making a disciple.
I could take the time to study every passage that deals with the topic, but instead believe that it will be a better use of our time to continue to preach expositionally. As a result, in studying the Book of 2 Timothy, we will find that making disciples is a life long, intensive activity. In this, the last epistle that Paul wrote, sent to his son in the faith Timothy, we find Paul discipling Timothy. Paul knows he is about to die, and the last things on his mind revolve around continuing to disciple Timothy so that he might continue to grow in grace and mature in his faith.
To introduce this series I will start in Matthew 28:18-20 in a message titled simply "Go". This message will help lay a foundation for us to understand what we have been commanded to do and then the remaining messages from 2 Timothy will show us how to do it. What is it that we have been commanded to do and need to know how to do? The Making of Disciples.
Our brief outline in this first message will be:
Sermon Series: Making Disciples
I. Go - Matthew 28:18-20
A. The Creator (vs. 18) B. The Commission (vs. 19) C. The Curriculum (vs. 20a) D. The Comforter (vs. 20b)
The message will be available to listen to our download for free later today at the link provided: Go - Matthew 28:18-20