Recently I read two books, released just months apart, on the theme of discipleship. The first booked called “Multiply” written by Francis Chan focuses on the Great Commission and the command Jesus gave us to go and make disciples! Chan writes,
“The Great Commission uses three phrases to describe what disciple making entails, go, baptize people, and teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded. Simple, right? It’s incredibly simple in the sense that is doesn’t require a degree, an ordination process, or some sort of hierarchical status. It’s as simple as going to people, encouraging them to follow Jesus, and then teaching them to obey Jesus commands. The concept itself is not very difficult. But the simplest things to understand are often the most difficult to put into practice.”
Chan goes on to share not only how to disciple people but also explains the importance of studying the Bible and how to study it. At one point I felt as though I was sitting in a Precept Inductive Bible Study workshop.
The second book I read was called “Follow Me” by David Platt. This book was very challenging in the sense that Platt points out where he believes we as church members and leaders began to soften the message Christ had for the disciples He first called in Matthew 4:18-22. Jesus in vs. 19 says, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” Their response to the call comes in verse 5 “immediately they left their nets and followed Him.” These fishermen dropped everything to follow Jesus. Platt writes,
“Should it concern us that nowhere in Scripture is anyone ever told to ‘ask Jesus into their heart,’ or to ‘invite Christ into their life?’ Yet this is exactly what multitudes of professing Christians have been encouraged to do, they’ve been assured that as long as they said certain words, recited a particular prayer, raised their hand, checked a box, signed a card, or walked an aisle, they are Christians and their salvation is eternally secure. It’s not true. With good intentions and sincere desires to reach as many people as possible for Jesus, we have subtly and deceptively minimized the magnitude of what it means to follow Him. We’ve replaced challenging words from Christ with trite phrases in the church. We’ve taken the lifeblood out of Christianity and put Kool-Aid in its place so that it tastes better to the crowds, and the consequences are catastrophic!”
As I was reading this book I couldn’t help but recall the number one “excuse” Bible study leaders hear after they’ve promoted and invited people to join them in Bible study: “I don’t have time.” How discouraging this can be. I’ve been there with you and have heard this myself. I have a hard time swallowing that pill so to speak. How can anyone, who professes Christ as the one who reconciled them to God by His death on the cross, not have time to spend with the One who was gracious enough to leave Heaven, become man, and die on a cross for our sin. Sometimes I think…this is crazy. That people long to spend eternity with God in heaven yet don’t have time to know Him now.
However, after reading the comments that Platt made it opened my eyes to the real problem the leader is facing. For a moment consider Platt’s words. The church has people in their pews that have prayed the prayer, walked the aisle, signed the card, raised the hand and now fully believe they are saved from the wrath of God but they have not died to self. (Matthew 10:39; Romans 6:11)
This would explain a lot wouldn’t it? Take a look at the picture of the baby. Weird to see isn’t it? A baby with a giant T-bone steak. Look at that steak…that is enough protein for my entire family and way too much for a baby to handle. Might this be the case when the well meaning Precept Leader invites the masses to join their Precept Upon Precept® Bible study group? We offer “solid food” and most are not ready because they still need milk (1 Cor. 3:1-5). It is quite possible that many have yet to grasp the elementary principles of the Gospel. They have not grasped the magnitude of what it means to follow Christ and thus do not have their appetite trained to study God’s Word. All we hear is “I don’t have time, I don’t want homework,” but maybe the underlying cry is “I’m not ready for steak.”
I’ve been asking God to give me insight into whether this is truly the case within the church. I see so much apathy, lack of hunger to be in God’s Word, many who are content with living life like the world, all the while proclaiming Christ as their Saviour. Christ’s call to follow was a drop everything I desire and pursue the things God desires for me. We cannot have the world and Christ too, it doesn’t work that way. But how do we disciple the multitudes of baby Christians so they come to see this for themselves?
I believe God has already given Precept Ministries a tool to do this in the FastTrack Training program. This recent addition to our workshop lineup is a 3-hour session that focuses on the 40 Minute topical Bible Studies as well as the New Inductive Study Series. From the few FastTrack workshops that have been held this year across Canada, God has already raised up new Bible study leaders that are using these two study series.
I am confident that God will use these two types of Bible Study and the FastTrack workshop to establish people (especially those Platt identifies) in God’s Word. These studies have a shorter time commitment than Precept Upon Precept® and they are an appropriate diet for young Christians. What I love about the FastTrack workshop is that any church or group that hosts the workshop can pick any book of the Bible and any of the 24 topics in the 40 Minute Series. No longer is training exclusively for the Precept Upon Precept® crowd. That is exciting!
The main point is you and I both have a major role to play in establishing new people in God’s Word. For years all there was to study was Precept Upon Precept.® And, unlike the baby, many of us are well equipped to handle steak when it is put before us. We look at the 40-Minute Series and NISS books as milk not worthy to be used as a study. But who better to lead the precious ‘babe in Christ’ into the Word using a 40-Minute Study than a seasoned student of the Word? Wouldn’t you love to watch the new child grow and become a mature disciple who is equipped to handle steak when it is put in front of them?
Let me encourage you to get a 40-Minute Bible Study. The Power of Knowing God, our latest release, is a powerful study on God’s character. Grab one or more new people who you know have never studied Precept and start them on the process to knowing what it means to “Follow Me.”
There is no greater time then now for disciples of Jesus Christ to become intentional disciple makers. In reading Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus says, “Go, therefore and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo I am with you always to the end of the age.”
Take the command Jesus has given us and run with it. Only in the power of the Spirit and working together can you and I establish 30,000 new Canadians in God’s Word in 2013!
Join me on April 9 at 6:30 pm Eastern for the FastTrack workshop online from anywhere in Canada. Workshop materials will be sent by mail. Please register by April 2 if you are attending online.
Read more from this month’s Plumbline newsletter. (pdf)