Making Disciples Takes Time

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I can be patient, if you will hurry!

In this era of instant messaging, microwave ovens and drive-through food, I have been trained to expect results immediately. This is the case even when it comes to making disciples.

Too often when a person comes to know Jesus, I naively expect instant results. Yes, I know that when a person experiences salvation, that person is as much a child of God as he or she will ever be. Jesus has come to live inside that person and has transformed a heart. New life has been born. Often, too quickly, a new believer is thrust into positions of responsibility because of their willingness to serve, but without the foundation in the faith needed. And we wonder where that leader is a year later after falling by the wayside.

I checked out for myself Jesus’ words of Matthew 28:18-20. The one command of this passage is to “make disciples.” Making disciples involves going, baptizing and teaching — a process. Looking to Jesus’ example, personal investment is required by a mentor into those who will be discipled.
In my own ministry, we have created multiplying D-Groups. They meet for a school year and, afterwards, students who complete the group are challenged to find four other students to lead through the same discipleship process.

And I remain impatient.

I can do the math. If everything worked perfectly (it doesn’t), we would start with a group of five, the second year it would be twenty-five, the third year 125, then 625, 3,125, etc, but some students don’t follow through, some fall by the wayside, others get crowded out by the cares of life and some don’t feel they can lead another group. I think Jesus spoke of this in a parable.

The optimist in me wants to see the multiplication take place. Even taking into account that it won’t happen exactly according to plan, I am already experiencing the multiplication, and I want it to hurry up and happen so that more students can be discipled.

But I must be patient. I must wait. I cannot rush the process. In the short term, there will be fewer. In the long term, there will be more. And I trust that the wait will be worth it.

Disciples will be made. Making disciples takes time.

Gary Brittain is a State Missionary and Campus Minister at Jacksonville State University.

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