Discipleship With IJ
Wait, hold up… What did He just say? ALL nations? I can barely make a fresh batch of Kimchi and he wants me to make disciples of ALL nations? Thank u - next!
That was my initial response when reading about the Great Commission. When we look at what Jesus says in the Gospels, it’s hard to take in his commandments; it feels extremely uncomfortable, seems humanly impossible, and sounds…. well…. just not for me.
If you’ve felt this way about making disciples (or any other “Christian things”), I’ve been there and, from time to time, I still am.
At the end of January 2019, I started a discipleship group of 11 students with the Middle School kids of Metro Community Church. I jumped in with a heart full of passion, a hunger to learn and an optimistic mindset to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the HOOOOOOLY GHOOOOOOST!!!
I read about 25 books in preparation for this discipleship program. I planned months ahead. I was darn woke! I met up with each student at least 3 times over the period of 4 months. I prayed EVERY👏DAY👏FOR👏THIS👏GROUP, but I somehow missed the point. In some sense, I failed my kids.
At first, I thought discipleship meant knowing a lot of Christian things and teaching a lot of Jesus stuff; however, God humbled me about discipleship. I learned that it’s not about the way of teaching or preaching, but it’s about the way of love.
Here is what I learned about discipleship:
1. PRESENCE OVER PREACHING
I’ve heard this phrase said THOUSANDS of times, but I never truly understood it until I began to take charge of my own ministry.
Every time I leave a discipleship class, I think to myself, “I should have said this better,” or “If only I said these words, then maybe they would be saved,” or “Maybe next week, I should shove some exegesis down their throats;” however, God always humbles me the week after and during our one-on-one meetings that it is about presence over preaching.
How many sermons have we heard in our entire lives? For someone who is a whopping 23 years old like myself, it is about one thousand sermons! But how many sermons do we actually remember? Most people cannot name ten sermons that impacted them off the top of their head.
To be brutally honest… most of us don’t even remember what was preached last month! Well, except Metro’s pastors because we bring straight FIRE! Amen?! Unfortunately, not even Metro’s fuego pastors.
It was never about Pastor’s preaching style or words they spoke or even the text they used – it was about the presence of God that was remembered through their style, words, and text.
Discipleship is about presence over preaching.
2. WEEPING OVER WINNING
A lot of people may not know this, but our Middle School kids are REALLY, REALLY smart (or I’m just REALLY REALLY dumb!) NEVERTHELESS, almost every discipleship session, I was asked a question I should not have answered, but I answered them thinking it was better to “win” but God was calling me to weep.
“Where is God in the midst of suffering?”
“What’s the purpose of Church? It seems like a building full of bigots.”
“Why is God so boring?”
“Is God a Republican or a Democrat?”
“Will people who never hear the gospel, go to hell?”
All of these questions CAN have answers, but God has taught me to weep rather than win. So what if I answer all these questions like a scholar and beat them in arguments? Half of these encounters, they may never really remember or care, but it’s not always about winning every argument because they just want to be HEARD. People want to be heard. What is our response?
Church, we need to weep.
3. LOVE OVER LABOR
As stated before, I worked SO hard for this discipleship group – I was a ministry junkie! To be completely honest, I thought God would honor my efforts.
“Cmon Lord! You said I’ma reap what I sow! Where are the fruits of MY labor?! SHABBA!”
That’s when I felt God telling me, “Oh son, you have much to learn.”
I realized that when the Bible talks about the theme of “You reap what you sow”, it is not about the individual’s spiritual growth, but it is about the community of God. Although I may not reap what I sow, my kids will reap what I sow.
God wants us to work hard for the kingdom of God, but it is not for our selfish gains. When we labor IN love and make LOVE the most important thing, then the burdens of our labors will turn into a joy.
Friends, my encouragement to you all is this: with boldness in love, let’s obey the commandment from Jesus and make disciples.
In this beautiful process of making disciples, you’ll realize the Holy Spirit discipling you.
– Pastor IJ