In the last Equip Tip, we emphasized the need of
the church’s educational ministries to remember and return to the
basics. Now, we address what those basics are. The goal of all our
ministries is to make kingdom disciples. But what does that mean?
A full-grown kingdom disciple would have two main characteristics.
He would look, act, and think like Jesus and would be actively
helping others become kingdom disciples.
Our theme in this edition of Equip to Disciple, as
was the last, is the church. There is no kingdom disciple outside
the church, because the church is the heart of God’s kingdom. In a
similar manner we say there is no salvation outside the church
because the two are inseparable. No individual has ever been saved
to be unconnected to a church. Understand that the Bible never
says Christ died for individuals. He obviously did. He did give
himself to be a ransom for us, but not that we should remain
individuals. The phrases used in the Bible say that Jesus died for
His people, His body, His church, but never for individuals apart
from the corporate body. Today more than ever, we need to instill
in our students of all ages their need to be connected to
something bigger than themselves, even beyond their immediate
families. The church is God’s covenant family where we are members
of one another, according to the apostle Paul.
When we teach the doctrine of the Trinity we teach
the interconnectedness, the interdependent, and the reality of a
close personal relationship. No member of the Trinity exists apart
from the others. Being made in God’s image, we have those same
relational characteristics. God said that it is not good for man
to be alone (Gen. 2:18). He made us to be part of a community –
interdependent and joined to each other for mutual love and
support. Some of my friends involved in ministries often boast of
their being independent. However, while they have good ministries,
they are very lonely and isolated with no one to share ideas and
accountability. I have been able to involve some of them in our
denominational ministry training. While they might argue for
independency, they welcome being connected to something bigger
Greg Ogden, in his book Discipleship Essentials,
says that Christians readily identify themselves as “Christians,”
but are quite reluctant to call themselves “disciples.” An
interesting observation because they see being a Christian as
living a simple life with no demands placed on them. Whereas,
being a disciple requires work!
What does all this mean for our educational
ministries? Our goal is to make kingdom disciples. This means
helping our people develop in three areas: their knowledge of the
Bible and our doctrines, an ever deepening love for our Lord, and
their abilities to do the work of the ministry. This
“transformational” discipleship approach, as described in the book
Making Kingdom Disciples, requires all three areas to be
constantly addressed. The Holy Spirit’s job is to make us like
Jesus. Our role is to help each disciple know and understand what
that means and how it can be developed within them.
It is only as a denomination with a church and
kingdom focus that we can effectively develop kingdom disciples
who can and will think beyond an independent mindset. We need each
other. We also need those resources that a denomination working
collectively can provide that fit with our theological system.
This includes a proper love for and involvement in the church’s