Boldly Stepping into the Discipleship Crisis
Africa is in the midst of the greatest discipleship crisis in church history. The growing gap is the result of explosive growth. The church is thriving. The Africa Study Bible speaks to why disciple-making now needs to be the main focus:
A young Nigerian became born again, a new person. He soon started attending Bible studies and discipleship sessions. After almost a year, a job opportunity opened up, but it would require giving a bribe to the human resources supervisor. He replied, “I need a job but I cannot offend my Lord who has asked me to walk in integrity.” Months later, he got a job. Through this job, secured in integrity, he became successful in the international business world.
As a disciple-maker, he reared his children to exhibit the marks of discipleship—they are now following his godly footsteps. It was not just the call to salvation but also the commitment to discipleship and disciple-making that transformed this young Nigerian’s life and created a family legacy of righteousness, holiness, and service to God.
A disciple of Jesus Christ is someone who follows him, receives his teachings, his forgiveness, his values, his worldview, his way of life, and obeys him. Christ not only wants us to be disciples, but he wants us to help others want to become his disciples as well.
Christ commissioned us, “Go and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19). We make disciples by bringing people to Jesus to live totally committed lives: “So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own” (Luke 14:33). “Then Jesus said to his disciples, if any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).
Too often our African churches have focused mainly on evangelism and conversion, asking people to accept Christ as Saviour and join a church. Christian discipleship is more than being a Christian—it is about being a follower! A follower of Jesus Christ is one who patterns his or her life after Christ, seeks to follow the example of Jesus in every aspect of life, and obeys his teaching. Jesus said that after making disciples and baptising them, we are to “teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you” (Matthew 28:20).
Jesus spent three years making disciples—teaching and training his chosen twelve and other followers. Why did the disciples leave all to follow Jesus? They hung up their fishing nets, said good-bye to their families, and left everything behind. These men saw something very compelling in Jesus. They felt his love. They realised he could give purpose and direction to their lives. Discipleship is a love relationship. We are saved by the sheer grace of God, and we become disciples out of love and gratitude. We are attracted to Christ, and we want to follow him and become like him.
The church in Africa, although very large, does not have enough disciple-makers. Too often people who become Christians do not realise they are called to grow as disciples. Discipleship is not something you learn from a book. Discipleship is the result of a nurturing process when one person pours his or her life into another person. It is a process that can transform church attenders into vibrant disciples of Jesus Christ.
Many think eternal life happens in the future. The truth is that our new lives start with being called to be disciples of Jesus, and that calling lasts into eternity. Disciple-makers are those who have started their journeys towards eternity by living new lives right now and are calling others to join them.
This excerpt is inspired by an Article of the Africa Study Bible titled, “Discipleship”. Africa Study Bible Articles are about the Christian life and critical concerns that face the church in Africa and its people. The articles help you understand how to apply the bible to a specific area of life where God’s wisdom is needed.
You can provide Bibles for Pastors in countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
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