The cost of discipleship is high. But the profit is great. Changed lives. Changed families. Changed communities. Jesus set the precedent for the life of discipleship and creating disciples. In the Gospels, Jesus called many men and women to follow him. Many of them were rough around the edges—working blue-collar jobs, difficult, slow to understand, cowardly, with sordid pasts, and of little reputation.
Basically, they were a lot like most of us. Over time, some stuck with Jesus and devoted their lives to him and his ministry—and others devoted themselves to things like wealth, power, and pleasure, tragically chasing things in creation rather than loving the Creator of all things.
For over three years, Jesus lived with and trained the people who stuck with him, educating them about who he was, what that meant for them and the world, and how to tell others about him. Jesus lived life with them. He ate and drank with them. He prayed with them and taught to them what the Scriptures said. He cried for them. And he died for them…. After three years of travel, toil and tears, the disciples watched their teacher be executed on a cross because he claimed to be God. This is the point where most stories would end.
But this isn’t just any story. Jesus rose from the dead, victorious over Satan, sin, and death. And the first thing he did was go back to teaching and training his disciples over meals and through conversations.
And before he left this world to take his rightful place on his throne in heaven, Jesus said these words to his disciples, as recorded in Matthew 28:18–20:
“I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
And Jesus gave them the Holy Spirit, to help them live for him in this world. It’s the simplicity of these words that drives East Mains Baptist Church, as we seek to make disciples of all nations, starting with our families, neighbours, colleagues, and friends.
What is a disciple?
Disciple. Strange word, isn’t it? Chances are, if you’ve never been to church, you’ve never used that word. But the word “disciple” is rich with meaning and purpose. For Christians, it’s at the very heart of the mission that Jesus himself gave us. So, we use it proudly but also know that we need to define it.
At East Mains Baptist Church, we believe a disciple is someone entirely devoted to learning about and living for Jesus—after all, it is all about Jesus.
Whether we know it or not, we all find our identity in something. For some, it’s money and power. For others, it’s sexuality and pleasure. For still others, it’s morality and popularity. As disciples, we’re called to find our identity in Jesus and him alone. All other things are either secondary to—or completely against—Jesus in our lives.
Whether we know it or not, we all worship something. This is most often tied to where we find our identity. Some worship money and power. Others worship sex and pleasure. Still others worship morality and popularity. There is a seemingly endless list of things that we can find to devote our worship to in this world.
As disciples, we’re called to worship Jesus and him alone. He is the Creator and sustainer of all things.
We’re made for community. In each one of us is a desire to love and to be loved, to have friendship and to give friendship, to have a place of safety and belonging. These are God-given desires and essential for becoming a disciple. Just as Jesus trained his disciples in the context of community—living with them, travelling with them, eating and drinking with them—we seek to build disciples through community.
We accomplish this through Sunday worship services and Life Groups that meet at various times during the week.
All of us long for a sense of purpose. The idea that the world is meaningless grates against every fibre of our being. While many come to the conclusion that life has no meaning, the Christian takes joy in the fact that God has a purpose for this world—a mission—and that he calls us to help him with this mission. Jesus didn’t train his disciples in a classroom. Instead, he trained them each day as he went about his work to accomplish his mission—to die on the cross for our sins and to rise from, and conquer, death three days later. And he gave us a mission, too: to make disciples.
Part of becoming a disciple is our mission to make more disciples. As we seek to fulfill God’s mission, we know him more and experience the life-changing joy of seeing others begin to know him too.