Go And Make Disciples
By Grant Dibden
Looking at the spiritual condition of our nation it’s easy to see a picture similar to that described in Matthew 9:
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out labourers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:36-38
Standing in the midst of our ripened fields today, two things are abundantly clear. Australia still desperately needs the love of Christ, and in order for the compassion of God to be expressed to our lost and dying neighbours, we need more labourers. Manual workers … working up a sweat … getting tired … living among us, and giving their lives for the sheep. Normal, everyday people, imperfect men and women, just like the fishermen and tax collectors called by Jesus to be His apostles.
Navigators are labourers. That’s who we are. We are children of God who labour together in the harvest field. We live and disciple among the lost and we can do this because of our relationship with Jesus. Dawson Trotman put it this way:
“A reproducing Christian doesn’t have to be an orator, and he doesn’t have to have a stimulating personality. He doesn’t have to be beautiful or have an outstanding education. In the physical as well as the spiritual realm, every person who is healthy, fairly mature, and not sterile can be a parent to children. I believe it’s time that all the children of God, each one of them, began to think of himself as a producer and to think of those he reaches for Christ as reproducers. Don’t be satisfied until you see your grandchildren in the Lord and then, in time, some great grandchildren. There’s a goal for you! There’s something to keep you on your knees in prayer and searching the Scriptures for” (The Navigator, p. 156).
The goal of Daws’ work was: Help someone come to know Christ and help him or her grow and be equipped to the point they could help someone else. And it’s the same today. Standing above all else, what we have in common with every Navigator in the 115 or so countries we minister in around the world, is this idea of generations. Everything else builds upon it! It is the spirit and purpose of why God called the Navigators into existence.
Generations is important to Jesus and He makes it a priority, we see this in Matthew 28 :
“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 obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19, 20
Jesus shares these words in a very intense moment. They are His last words on earth that Matthew records. It is a key moment and Jesus is aware that the disciples could give their lives to many very good things – but miss this critical thing. So, He sums up the most important thing, what He had been doing for three years. He was concise and direct. Make disciples.
The Great Commission is not merely to go to the ends of the earth preaching the Gospel, nor is it restricted to baptising a lot of converts into the name of the triune God, not even to only teach those disciples the commands of Christ … but to make disciples. The disciples were to build people like themselves who are so constrained by the commission of Christ that they not only follow Jesus, but lead others to follow His way and teach them to teach others who teach others who … And it continues to us. We are to teach others who teach others who … We are to reproduce and make reproducing disciples.
That’s what Jesus says we are to do and so we look to His example to see how. Jesus could have had many, many disciples if He had sought them. He could have packed churches with healings and free food, calming storms, walking on water. But He didn’t. He chose twelve and devoted the majority of His attention to them. In fact, during Jesus’ earthly ministry He spent more time with the twelve than with everyone else on earth combined. And even within the twelve there seems to have been an inner ring of three: Peter, James and John.
Jesus chose a few and invested His life with them. That was His strategy. They were a small community and it did not matter how small the group was to start with, if they reproduced, if they made disciples who made disciples, it would grow, and grow, and grow. You could take out key leaders, you could cut the money off, you could shut down large gatherings, you could stop whatever … But it wouldn’t stop the advance of the Kingdom. That’s why this idea was important. The most important command Jesus could leave them with, in this critical moment was, “Make Disciples.”
Jesus knew that the people who make the biggest difference in our lives are those who not only give us knowledge but who know us well enough to speak truth into the specifics of our lives, to give counsel from their experience and biblical insight. He knew that a small community with life-on-life discipleship as it’s hallmark was unstoppable.
Our heart as Navigators is still to follow Jesus by making disciples who ultimately impact lives and generations to come. Together, we want to be used by God to advance His Kingdom into a world that needs to know. All for the glory of God.