The simplest unit of the church of Jesus Christ is one believer gathered with another, intentionally, and explicitly meeting in Jesus’ name (cf Mt 18:20). Our Lord absolutely promises to be present whenever that occurs. How can any right thinking believer doubt him? If two are united in Christ they form the most elementary building block of the church that Jesus is building. This is why the marriage of two believers, to form a new Christian family, is so central to the life of the gospel being truly revealed in the local church. Holy Matrimony is the basic unit of the church, the basic “two.” Without marriages in which mutual encouragement to follow Jesus is occurring, what hope is there for the church to be a disciple-making community?
Sadly, any careful assessment of the marriages in a local church, in the West at least, reveals that far too few couples are living as disciple-making examples of the church (in miniature) of Christ Jesus. How can this be addressed? My experience is that it requires the reintroduction, to the men of the church, of the basic pattern of one discipling another. If the men of the church begin to understand and practice disciple-making with other men, it is only a matter of time until it effects their marriages. And when their marriages are renewed in the gospel, their children will be blessed. Soon the local church will follow, and in time the whole community surrounding will be changed.
According to the Lord, two is a sufficient number for his presence to be assured, but he does add “or three.” Some men may be comfortable meeting as a ” two,” but many more will prefer a “three.” Understanding the difference may be as simple as deciding if someone is an extrovert or an introvert, but in any case the road to healthy church life, in the gospel of Jesus, depends on men discovering how to disciple one another, and their families. Where to begin? Two or three men, meeting in Jesus name, is enough. But there needs to be at least one who understands the journey.
All of human experience attests that the life of any organism or organization will not rise above the leadership. If men are to learn to disciple one another, they must be led by a man who is also on the same journey. In a congregational setting that must be the pastoral leader. Disciple-making is not a program that can be delegated. It is a way of life for every follower of Jesus. It cannot be preached into existence, nor taught with words only. It must be lived. And lived in the fullness of God’s word and his Spirit. A leader reading this who wants it to be true must decide to make it true for himself.
Finding another man who is already on the journey as a disciple-making disciple is the first step after that prayerful decision. He must be found, and he must be godly. He may be near or far, but he must be found. Best is someone near, whose life you can witness, whose discipling patterns you can evaluate, whose integrity you can prove. Modern technology makes it possible to do this virtually, and God will honor that if all else fails. But what matters is the beginning. Find someone to disciple you, to walk with you.
Next Week: What Makes the Difference?