At a recent Harvest Foundation staff meeting we discussed the end purpose of Jesus’ Great Commission: discipling nations. Even though we know this, it is too easy to overlook the macro implications. We don’t always “connect the dots” between the discipleship of individuals and the discipleship of nations.
Christian discipleship has two major components: teaching what Jesus taught, and teaching obedience to Jesus’ instructions. The goal for the individual disciple is to mirror the character of Jesus. At Harvest we like to talk about this as being the hands, feet, ears, eyes, and mouth of Jesus for others.
This is discipleship at the micro, or individual level. When the people of a nation are discipled, their nation is discipled. That’s the macro level. In other words, the way to disciple a nation is to disciple its people.
Though I believe this is true, I think the process of discipling a nation would be greatly enhanced if not only individual disciplers, but also churches as they catechize their members, were more intentional about “connecting the dots,” that is, showing the relationship between individual discipleship and the end goal of discipling the nation. For example, every new disciple needs to see the connection between his/her obedience and the transformation of their nation.
Too often our discipleship is so focused on personal transformation that we don’t insure that the disciple sees the larger implications of their becoming like Jesus. As a result the disciple becomes inwardly rather than outwardly focused. Following Jesus is more about them than about serving others. The difference is subtle, but the implications are, I think, dramatically different.
Here are some practical suggestions for anyone who shares these concerns.
At the level of teaching local church leaders:
- Teach the importance of intentionally connecting the dots between individual discipleship and national transformation.
- Encourage leaders to make alliances with other entities such as schools, local governments, etc. for the purpose of seeking shalom or well being.
- Help pastors understand that the key sectors of society are all areas of God’s concern and thus represent opportunities to engage, rather than avoid. These include education, media, economics, and politics.
At the level of individual discipleship:
- From the very beginning of the discipleship process help the new convert understand that God’s concern is the healing (shalom) of their nation and that their decision to become a follower of Jesus is an essential part of God’s strategy in seeing that goal accomplished.
- Help new converts see that God has invited them to have a significant part in this great purpose.
- Teach disciples that God intends his people to represent and promote (as an ambassador) His love and principles of living to all those he/she is in contact with – family, neighbors, work colleagues, etc.
- Train new followers of Jesus in the use of tools and strategies they can use to be ambassadors of God’s intentions.
- Provide opportunity for accountability and celebration of these efforts.
- Bob Moffitt, President of the Harvest Foundation