It was obvious to me what I should do. It seemed like a sensible thing to do at the time and appeared the most natural response to receiving such great news.
I had just been made captain of my Primary School football team and the night before the big game I made my way to a local Sports Store in search of the now essential piece of kit – a captain’s armband! For me it wasn’t enough that my team mates quietly knew who the captain was. Instead I had to make it clear to the opposition and the 3 watching parents who was really in control of our team. I was in charge and I loved it!
My team lost. I played badly. We were heavily beaten and I made a mistake for the 5th goal.
But I wore that black elasticated band on my arm with pride and made sure to turn it outwards at all times to best display the large white ‘C’ printed in size 144 font.
I was so obsessed with leading that I forgot to play well.
As the church grew rapidly in Acts we are told this:
“So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number…became obedient to the faith.” Acts 6:7
I don’t think that means they were all leaders who were given authority in the church. But it does seem that many people grasped their opportunity to influence others for Jesus.
I sometimes wonder if we spend so much time getting our badges right, our programmes in place, the information correct and our church in order, but forget what our primary role is.
I sometimes wonder if we could give 10 different answers to the question ‘what is the church for?’, but forget the final command Jesus left his followers with.
I sometimes wonder if we too often succumb to the temptation to only truly lead when we have a badge on.
I sometimes wonder if we have made discipleship an inward process rather than an outward focus.
I would love the church to better grasp the simple call of Jesus to make disciples. I would love the church to not see disciple making as one extra thing to do, but rather a lens through which to view everything they already do. I would love the church to push for influence rather than merely desiring authority.
And it doesn’t need a church to do any more new stuff. It won’t mean a whole bunch of extra programmes. It just requires having a disciple-making focus on everything you do. If your discipleship doesn’t have a missional edge then it has become self-serving.
As you play your part in the body of Christ, how can ensure that the disciple making mandate of Jesus is at the core of your church? You might not be in charge, or even be a leader, but you will have opportunities to influence. Whether we wear the armband or are given a role, we all have a chance to be an influence on others.
Could you end the conversation over coffee after a church service by praying together? Who is on the fringes of your church community that you could drawing alongside? What questions could you ask in that meeting that ensure making disciples stays a priority? Who could you be opening the Bible with? Who could you be sharing the responsibilities of leadership with? Who could you be inviting to your dinner table?
Let’s not make disciple-making become a badge we wear, but a heart we carry. Forget the armband and just play well!