Friday, 26 November 2021

Missionary Disciples

Nowadays there is much talk about missionary disciples. This is not new - 15 years ago the Baptist Union slogan was 'Encouraging Missionary Disciples', but the emphasis has come to the fore, and the perceived need certainly accelerated by Covid. So there are now conferences focusing on the subject, looking at how we enable there to be more missionary disciples in our churches.

But there are also a few voices who are saying something subtly different. They are encouraging us to see that 'Missionary Disciples' should be an unnecessary combination of words ... because Discipleship must always include being on God's mission. Therefore you don't need the adjective - all true disciples will be missionary disciples for sure.

I have to say that I completely agree with the relative few. When Jesus said 'Come follow me' (to Peter and other fishermen), he also said 'and I will make you fishers of men'. When he called Levi the tax collector to follow it wasn't simply to leave behind is dodgy dealings (though of course it did include that!) ... it was to join on mission (going straight back among his dodgy friends!).

True discipleship means to be on God's mission team.

That doesn't mean we will all be star evangelists, or all of us need to full on extrovert ... but it does mean all of us seeking God for how He wants us to be on mission, and it does mean being prepared to share the hope that we have in Jesus. To not do this, skimp it, park it, or even ignore it ... is simply not being true to the call that Jesus makes on us when we call on Him to be saved.

So I now believe we are selling ourselves short when we talk about 'missionary disciples', since it implies that there are other categories/types of discipleship on offer. Being missionary is intrinsic to the real deal of following Jesus - the other categories are not truly in Christ. What the intrinsic missionary call exactly looks like can vary widely across different people, but it cannot be negotiated out or bracketed off to a subset.

So let us not focus on 'making missionary disciples'. Let us instead repent and reform our thinking on discipleship, seeking His grace to be true to the mission calling that is in following Jesus.

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