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Making Disciples Is Like Hitting A Baseball.

Making Disciples Is Like Hitting A Baseball.

Coach does it; player does it; coach tells the player how they can improve. Demonstrate, practice, critique, repeat.

Mike Rhoades | Nov 9, 2017

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…” - Matthew 28:19-20a
  God created you to be an influencer, a change agent and a disciple maker. Why hold back? For all the nuance and high-minded biblical treatment that we give the mission of the church, it’s not really that complicated. It can be as simple as walking across the street to strike up a friendship with your neighbor. It’s answering questions with honest answers and, sometimes, it means saying “I don’t know.” Above all you just need to be sincere and actually care about what is going on in another person's life. What Is Discipleship: We tend to use words like “Multiplication” or “Discipleship” to describe a simple, but robust, process. In Matthew 28, we read a challenge for every one of us. Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” There’s that word: discipleship. In many regards, this was a coronation for those that followed Jesus, a moment when they would be sent to replicate what they had just experienced. More than 2000 years later, those of us who call ourselves “Followers of Christ” get to engage in the very same process. Three years before this moment, Jesus introduced himself as a disciple maker, “Jesus called out to them, "Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!" (Matthew 4:19, NLT) As part of the Jewish culture of the time, these men would have already studied a number of the teachings about God. But the day the dropped their nets and began to follow Jesus they began something different. They began a practicum in the mission of the church. Over the course of three years these men literally followed Jesus around as He demonstrated what a life on a mission is like. Go Therefore: I’m convinced that at a certain point, in each person’s walk with Christ, there is more to be learned and experienced of God out in the world than there is inside the walls of a church building. I played baseball, so I’ll use a baseball analogy. When you first begin learning to hit a baseball, the coach puts the ball on a tee. You swing and miss or you obliterate the tee a few dozen times until, eventually, you learn how to hit the ball. Then the coach begins to toss the ball underhand and you learn to hit a ball that is moving. As you grow in strength and skill, you pick up the pace and ascend to a pitching machine. Within each phase, the process is the same. Coach does it; player does it; coach tells the player how they can improve. Demonstrate, practice, critique, repeat. The point of a pitching machine is to provide consistency. Hitting a baseball at 80 mph is one of the toughest things to do in sports. On average, the batter must learn how to react and hit the ball in under .2 seconds. It’s literally in the blink of an eye. Now imagine that you've mastered hitting the baseball off the pitching machine. You gather around your friends and say, “check this out” and then proceed to slam a baseball over the fence. You raise your hands triumphantly and do a slow trot around the bases to the sound of a roaring crowd inside your own head. Ridiculous, right? Why? Because, you haven’t done anything. You’ve manage to learn how to hit a baseball in a very controlled and consistent environment. The moment that you introduce a live pitcher, the variables change. All of a sudden, the pitches come at different speeds, at different heights and from different angles. You can be a brilliant hitter in the cage and terrible in a live hitting situation. The nuances of hitting a baseball don’t even begin to come alive until you get into a game situation where the pitcher is actively trying to make you miss the ball. Now let’s relate this to the church. When we are new in our faith and lack the community or the understanding to thrive in our faith, the church is a great place to grow. However, EVERY PERSON will reach a point when they need to step off the practice field and onto the playing field. Churches, in most cases, aren’t built to be playing fields, they are meant to be a place where you develop your “fundamentals” and learn the skills you will need to go into the world. The Church is a wonderful place to experience God and build Christian community, but there is so much more to be experienced. You need to get out in the real world. You need to get a few scrapes on your knees. You need to get beat down a few times. As you do, God will come alive to you. You will begin to understand what it means to depend on Him. You will begin to see His power in action. You will discover things about yourself, strengths and weaknesses, that you never knew were there. The tension, the trial, the pain, the victory and the beauty inherent in a God driven experience is infectious. Be A Disciple Maker: This might be the first time that you’ve thought about your community as a mission field. You have a great opportunity to make a huge impact. Before you run out the door and set the world on fire, let’s take a moment to process a few practical thoughts. Follow First: A simple definition of the word DISCIPLE is to follow. In order to be a good disciple maker you must first be a good follower of Jesus. Learn to say “I don’t know:” The truth is, we don’t have all the answers, no one but God does. The Bible says, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Don’t let a lack of knowledge or a fear of not having it all figured out stop you from becoming a disciple maker. Francis Chan, an author and pastor from San Francisco, is quoted saying, “the Spirit and the Word is sufficient.” It’s not a program - Life is full of ups and downs. Jesus understood this. Becoming a disciple maker is about compassion, patience, knowledge, grace, love and mercy expressed in the midst of shared experience. Jesus put it this way when challenged by the religious elite, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27). It’s not about you, but it’s for you - Helping people grow in their faith has very little to do with how clever we are or how great of a leader we are. The truth is, if we make it about what we want, then all we are really doing is creating followers of us. Being a disciple maker is not about what we want, but it is God’s prefered method for introducing new people to a life-giving faith in Jesus. He does the work but we get to play a vital role in the process!


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