Teach! Mentor! Make Disciples!

Pastor Bond Haldeman - 2006 - presentNow the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28: 16-20a)

This Scripture passage occurs at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, after the Resurrection.  Before his Ascension, Jesus lays out the Mission of the disciples, that is, the Mission of the Church.  To paraphrase, Jesus says, “You disciples of me—make me some more disciples!”  Followers, make more followers!  Students, make more students!  The Apostle Paul states the ideas a little differently, but gets to the same point.  Paul writes, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Elsewhere in this newsletter, there is a brief excerpt about the faith practice of Encouragement from Dr. Martha Stortz of Augsburg College.  At the core of the faith practice of Encouragement is the idea of “passing on the faith.”  The practice is lived out through teaching and mentoring.  All of us are called to pass on the faith within us, every one of us.  That means we must be mentoring and teaching those around us.

This is a future oriented perspective.  Who are you mentoring to continue after you?  Who are you training to take your place?  Who are you teaching to do as you do?  You, who are a disciple of Christ, who are you making disciples for the future?  Part of the disciples’ job description is to pass on the faith.  So, who are you mentoring?  Who are you teaching?  Who are you helping to grow?

But in this faith practice of Encouragement, there is not just another “job.” The Mission of God is life giving, and this faith practice reveals the mystery that is encapsulated in the Prayer of Saint Francis, “It is in giving that we receive.”  In the process of helping others grow, we will find ourselves growing.  The teachers are taught by the students.  The leaders are developed by the followers.  The disciples grow as they make disciples.  Faith practices are for growing our own faith, and in giving encouragement through teaching and mentoring, our faith is grown.

As often needs to be said, if we take seriously the Scriptures and the Mission of God, then we are never not disciples of Jesus.  There is no retirement from discipleship.  So, we must take earnestly the question, “Who are you teaching, mentoring, and making a disciple?”  Be blessed and continue to grow in faith as you “encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank my God because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith toward the Lord Jesus. I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we may do for Christ. (Philemon 1:4- 6)

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