This is the question that God has been dealing with me on for the past several months. This question was born out of a deep study of Matthew 28:29-30. This question came to me again. It is once again time for local churches to fill out the Annual Church Profile (ACP) for the Southern Baptist Convention. I had to count everything from attendance and baptisms to offerings and budgets.
Churches seem to be really good at counting things. It seems the most common things to be counted are buildings, budgets, and baptisms. How many square feet are in your building? How many people can fit in your sanctuary? How much money did you collect this year, and more importantly, how much did you give back to missions? How many people did you baptize? These are all legitimate questions, but are they what Jesus really meant by “go make disciples?”
If Jesus commanded His disciples to make disciples, then where are all the disciples? Perhaps we must first define what a disciple is. A disciple is simply a person who has been learning to be more like Jesus. Someone whose life has been radically transformed by Jesus. Someone like Matthew (the Gospel writer). Formerly know as Levi the tax collector; Jesus changed his life, his occupation, and even his name. So the command to Matthew is to make Matthews. Making disciples means to witness to people, to baptize people, to teach people to be obedient to God’s Word, and to be faithful for God as He leads them in the path of righteousness. So, what really counts? Not how many we baptize, but how may of those we baptize become disciples.