What were Jesus’ intentions when he commissioned His followers to “Go…Make Disciples”? Matthew 28:19-20
I think He intended to change their very culture into one that focused on making disciples.
Webster defines Culture as: the customary beliefs, social forms, and behaviors of a group; the characteristic features of everyday existence; the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an organization.
What does it mean to create a Disciple-making culture?
It means that the customary beliefs of our small groups, the characteristic features of the members’ everyday existence; the shared attitudes, values, and goals of the small group ministry are focused on making disciples.
Even more than that, small group members see it as their life-style behaviors and practices to make disciples. This may mean to be intentional about building meaningful relationships with people in their world and trying authentically, not manipulatively, to lead them to become Disciples of Jesus. This does not mean our mission is to create spiritual giants or biblical scholars but people who are simply willing to learn about Jesus; to become students. It means that when small group members step out into their world they see it as a mission field full of potential disciples whose lives need to be transformed by Jesus. Their life behaviors and practices are focused on making disciples.
Transformation is usually defined as change; a metamorphosis from an old existence to a new one as described in 2 Corinthians 5:17, …behold all things are become new. We usually think of the butterfly transformed from the caterpillar. Transformation is radical change and more. If we change the crawling caterpillar, he’s still a caterpillar, however when he enters the cocoon, transformation takes place and he assumes a new life-path. He doesn’t crawl, he flies. Change fixes things; transformation creates a new path for life. Paul reminds us in Romans 12:2 that transformation comes through the renewing of your minds.
Sunday School: Part of a Disciple-making, Transformational Ministry Process…
The renewing of mind refers to learning. As one learns about the gospel of Jesus from God’s Word and sees it lived out in a small group of believers, his mind can become renewed and transformation takes place. He moves from being a learner to a believer disciple. Sunday School is a learning place where potential disciples can renew their minds as they hear and see the gospel in others. That’s why Sunday School Small Group Ministry is an important part in a disciple-making, transformational ministry process.
In the Simple Church by Geiger and Rainer, churches were encouraged to develop a Discile-Making Process, and this usually consisted of three elements:
- Worship – where disciples connect with God
- Community – where disciples connect with other disciples and invite potential disciples
- Missions – where disciples connect with the community full of potential disciples
Sunday School is that second step in the Disciple-Making process. It is that small group to which believer disciples invite and welcome potential, learner disciples to experience the gospel. It is the cocoon for transformation; a safe place where learner disciples can ask the hard questions and hear the stories of and be mentored by believer disciples.
Phil Stone, State Sunday School Director
Church Administration and Church Building Planning Ministries
Baptist State Convention of North Carolina