a follower and philalethist

My musings, food for thought, and perspective on faith, family, and culture.

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Missions and discipleship from a local church perspective

The following post is the transcription of something I shared with our church family on August 31; as such, it is the compilation of my thoughts on missions and discipleship, as well as specific vision for our church family (last paragraph).

The outcome of missions is discipleship and the outcome of discipleship is missions. What does that mean? In Matthew 28:19, Jesus’ command is to make disciples of all nations:

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

He doesn’t merely say to share the gospel, make converts or improve people’s lives, but to make disciples. The goal of missions is to proclaim Christ and as people respond to the gospel, to lead them to grow to maturity in Christ, sharing Jesus and walking with them as they become more and more like Jesus.

How is missions the outcome of discipleship? Jesus’ purpose for His disciples was to see them mobilized to be witnesses of Him. He invested in them, challenged them, and equipped them to lead the church and extend the message of the gospel. He discipled them so that they would in turn reproduce more Christlike disciples that would make more disciples.

Discipleship involves coming to Jesus, seeing Him, staying with Him, and being changed by Him (John 1:35-51). As God is shaping us to be more like Jesus, we will join in His mission: we will serve and we will share. That may not necessarily mean that we will become a cross-cultural missionary, but that wherever we are, we are looking to reproduce new followers of Jesus and help current believers to follow Jesus more closely. In fact a great test for our spiritual maturity is not how much we know about Christ, but how committed we are to His priorities ahead of our own.

As we look to missions for this next year through the lens of discipleship, serving in missions is an outcome of growth and service at home. The missions committee will be unveiling opportunities for partnership with our missionaries over the next few months; of course, one significant avenue of partnership is sending a mission team. However, it would have been ludicrous for Jesus to have sent out His disciples immediately after calling them in John 1; in the same way, our focus for developing mission teams is based on developing disciples. After all, if the outcome of missions is discipleship, then maturing disciples should be the ones joining in the mission.

Do Work

I have a laundry list of potential topics to discuss, but it’s fitting that my first post is about the intersection of two of my loves: faith and soccer. Yesterday saw the end of the US Men’s National Team’s World Cup hopes, but it was a loss with class, dignity, and grit. While we may wear white jerseys (or bomb pops), yesterday was the epitome of blue-collar, “do work” soccer, and no one on the 2014 squad embodied that ideal better than Howard and Dempsey. Howard’s incredible 16 saves against Belgium and Dempsey’s early goal and playing through a broken nose book-ended the tournament for us, setting a pace for American soccer that I hope to see idealized at every level of development. I was encouraged to also discover this week that both Dempsey and Howard’s work ethic are built on a foundation of faith. Both men’s faith are reflected on the field; Howard’s calm in the goal is sourced out of the peace that he’s come to know through Christ. Dempsey’s grit comes from personal turmoil, wrestling through difficult questions and finding confidence in the truth of God’s Word.

Cru has an article on Howard, interviewed by Athletes in Action: 


Fellowship of Christian Athletes includes a devotional written by Dempsey, but the patheos provides a more thorough overview:


What it means to be a Christian athlete is often mischaracterized or misunderstood. Timid, meek, or nice are often words that come to mind; however, hard work, fair play, dedication, and leadership are much more in line with God’s expectation for any profession. The soccer community is privileged to have two men of character, integrity, passion, and work ethic as examples of Christian footballers. As a coach, Colossians 3:23 has often been a go-to reminder of how to play sports: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as for the Lord and not for men.” Hats off to the United States Men’s National Team, and especially to Howard and Dempsey for inspiring a nation and leading by example.

Beginning Again

Over the past year I’ve been challenged to do some more writing, so I’m planning to revive my blog, giving it a facelift along the way. Apparently writing once or twice every couple of years doesn’t count. I am genuinely flattered and humbled that people want to read what I write; if you’re one of those and have suggestions of topics you’d like me to tackle, feel free to comment or message me.