Every Action Must Follow This One Thing

How can you help your church transition from passive worship-service attenders to active Jesus-serving disciplers?

The failure to follow the Lord’s command to make disciples in Matthew 28:18-20 stands as possibly the single most glaring act of negligence by the Church today.

This neglect has lead to many well-intentioned families to think of themselves as an audience to be entertained at the church, rather than an army to be deployed from church.

Discipleship must function as the heartbeat of church ministry inside of every Sunday gathering and ministry program.

Solution #1: Seeing that actions always follow belief

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Great Omission, by Dallas Willard

The last command Jesus gave the church before he ascended to heaven was the Great Commission, the call for Christians to “make disciples of all the nations.” But Christians have responded by making “Christians,” not “disciples.” This, according to brilliant scholar and renowned Christian thinker Dallas Willard, has been the church’s Great Omission.

According to Willard, the word disciple occurs 269 times in the New Testament, but the word “Christian” is found three times. The disciple of Jesus stands on the pages of the New Testament as the first level of basic transportation in the Kingdom of God.


A look across the church landscape today reveals an almost insidious assumption: that people can be “Christians” forever and never become disciples. People in many churches in Western culture look at the Great Commission as something to be carried out somewhere else, particularly other countries. The assumption is that we don’t need “it” because we are basically right to begin with.

That assumption leads down a dead-end path of totally misunderstanding what it means to be a disciple of Christ, and how to become one.

However we may understand the details, there can be no doubt, on the biblical picture of human life, that we were meant to be inhabited by God and to live a power beyond ourselves.

First, there is absolutely nothing in what Jesus himself or his early followers taught that suggests you can decide to just to enjoy forgiveness at Jesus’ expense and have nothing more to do with him. How could one actually trust him for forgiveness of sins while not trusting him for much more than that?

Second, if we do not become His apprentices in Kingdom living, we remain locked in defeat so far as our moral intentions are concerned. That is where most professing Christians find themselves today. People, generally, choose to sin. But, even so, no one wants to be a sinner.

Third, only avid discipleship to Christ through the Spirit brings the inward transformation of thought, feeling, and character that “cleans the inside of the cup (Matthew 23:25) and “makes the tree good” (Matthew 12:33). As we study with Jesus we increasingly become on the inside exactly what we are on the outside, where actions and moods and attitudes visibly play over our body, alive in its social context. An amazing simplicity will take over our lives – a simplicity that is really just transparency.

Finally, for the one who makes sure to walk as close to Jesus as possible there comes the reliable exercise of a power that is beyond them in dealing with the problems and evils that afflict earthly existence. Jesus is actually looking for people he can trust with his power.

Dallas Willard, The Great Omission


A mind obscured by excuses may see discipleship as a mystery, or even something to be dreaded. But becoming a disciple – desiring and intending to be like someone – is a very common thing. If we really intend to be like Christ, it should be obvious to everyone around us.

Evaluate the health and effectiveness of your church’s current discipleship ministry.

  • What percentage of people who are active in your church are currently involved in discipleship ministry?
  • What percentage of those are experiencing spiritual transformation?
  • Is discipleship contained within the large group of our church or does it permeate into small groups?
  • In what ways are people experiencing true relationships, a sense of community, because of your current discipleship ministry?
  • In what ways are you and others in your church becoming more like Jesus because of your current discipleship ministry? Which areas are lacking?
  • How effectively is your church’s discipleship ministry training believers to meet the needs of a hurting society?
  • How are new leaders being raised up through your current discipleship ministry?

Discuss the implications of these questions with your leadership team. Outline 1-2 strategic actions to take in the next 4-6 weeks that increase health in areas of discipleship.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 51-1, published October, 2016.

Part of a weekly series

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

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Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
— Ken

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