What? Something MORE Important Than Church Planting?

I had just successfully started a church. I had strategically planned every detail of the advertising blitz, rented a civic center, found partners to work with, found a pastor with a heart for church planting, and had a successful launch day with around 60 non-believers in attendance. 

A few days later I was having my quiet time, reading in the Gospel of Matthew.  I was still on cloud nine, feeling wonderful; possibly how Elijah felt after killing the 850 prophets of Baal. I had conquered, and I was successful!  I had done what every church planter dreams about. 

I got to the end of Matthew and read the Great Commission. I read the last two verses of Matthew and I was “cut to the quick”. I read “Go and make disciples” and this frightful thought came to me. I just successfully planted a church, yet I was not being obedient.  How could this be? I read the last verse of Matthew, “teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you”. I was stripped bare before the Lord. Yes, I had started a church, but I was not making disciples. I was not being obedient to the Great Commission. Wow! Who would have ever thought that a person who had given up everything to follow God, who had moved their whole family overseas to serve as missionaries and started a church, could be disobedient by not making disciples. Yet, that was me. I was broken before the Lord, crushed that I had missed the target God has for all of His children. I unexpectedly found myself in a strange place before God. I had gone from being on the mountain top to the depths of the valley. Once again, I felt like Elijah.  Only this time I felt like he did after he ran 90 miles from the wrath of an angry woman and curled up under a tree, wanting to die. I cried and asked God for forgiveness. 

I started praying that God would give me a disciple. Specifically, I prayed that He would send someone to me to disciple. I started thinking about and actually got excited about discipling.  I was going through lists of my acquaintances in my mind of guys around my age that God might want me to meet with to disciple.  But then the unexpected happened.  God so often does the unexpected!  There was a 19-year-old guy named Kevin, who had become a Christian the year before, but had not really grown. One day we were talking after English Club and out of the blue he asked if I would read the Bible with him! I wish I had said, “That would be great” or “wonderful “, but I was in shock and only replied, “I guess”.

Thankfully, God redeemed the moment and quickly coming back to my senses, I told Kevin to read the Gospel of John and I would do the same. We decided to meet the following week and talk about what we had read. Nothing mind blowing, but simple accountability and iron sharpening iron. I was really proud of myself after I finished reading the entire Gospel of John in less than a week. I felt like I had this discipleship thing down well.  When I met with Kevin I coolly asked him if he had finished reading all of the Gospel of John, expecting a negative answer since reading the Bible was new to him. Instead his answer was, “Yes. And I read all of Acts and Ephesians”. I was flabbergasted! I was humbled at hearing his words.  I had only read the Gospel of John.

After meeting with Kevin for a month, he asked me if his best friend, Stan, who was a non-believer, could join our group. Of course, I was thrilled! Stan joined us in reading 3 chapters of the Bible every day and meeting once a week. After a month or so of reading the Bible with us, Stan showed up at our weekly meeting and said he now believed the Bible and wanted to follow Jesus!

We can do a lot of good things (planting a church in my case) and even some great things, but it all doesn’t matter if we’re not fulfilling the Great Commission and making disciples. Doing great things is worthless if we are not being obedient to what He has called us to do.  When we are obedient, not only does God provide the tools that we need to get the job done, He also blesses beyond our expectations. I would have possibly never met Stan or seen him come to Christ if I hadn’t started reading the Bible with Kevin.

With the Great Commission before us and living in the middle of COVID-19, we can remember that God won’t call us to be obedient to a task without providing the tools that we need in order to get the job done. Although, we do sometimes need to create the tool that we can use in order to be obedient.

Are you hearing the same theme over and over again? God continued to humble me and show me that making disciples had to be a priority. Even though I was doing a good thing by planting a church, I was not doing the main thing God has called us to do. Go and make disciples.