A New Year, A Renewed Passion for Disciple-making
A Year-End Letter from the Westgate Elders
“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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” (Matt. 28:18-20)
From beginning to end, the Gospel of Matthew is all about Jesus’ identity and authority as the true king of heaven and earth. He proves this preeminently through his death and resurrection. But he applies his authority by commanding us to go into the world and make disciples all nations. These are our marching orders as his church—to help people turn away from sin and follow Christ.
Anytime we help someone meet Jesus or grow as a follower of Christ, we are making disciples. Anytime God’s people open his Word together, pray together, and share life in and around his gospel, we are making disciples. From gathered worship to small groups to one-on-one relationships—at every level and in each relational context, where the gospel of Jesus is brought to bear on people’s lives in a transformational way, we are making disciples.
Each level of relationship is an important part of the disciple-making process. But too often the most critical level is the most absent in the church—life-on-life discipleship. It’s simply too easy for most of us to hang out at the surface in large and small group contexts, always learning but not always applying. There’s something powerful that happens when we seek Christ together in the context of friendship and spiritual mentorship. In fact, if disciple-making isn’t happening at this most basic level—one life investing spiritually in the life of another—it’s probably not happening at other relational levels either.
Part of our vision at Westgate is to cultivate a pervasive culture of life-on-life discipleship aimed at fostering maturity, equipping for gospel service, and passing the faith on to the next generation (2 Tim. 2:1-2; 3:10-17). We believe this vision for spiritual multiplication is critical to our overall vision to be a gospel-centered community living each day on mission for Christ. Without a consistent practice of intentional disciple-making, we will only ever be scratching the surface of spiritual maturity or missional activity. We need to be changed by the gospel, even as we help others be changed by the gospel. Investing personally in each other through the Word, prayer, and intentional mentoring is vital for this to happen.
For these reasons, we’re excited to provide special training and mentoring in personal disciple-making during 2015. There are five specific offerings we’re looking forward to in this regard.
First we are inviting the congregation to gather on the last Sunday evening of each month to pray for our mission. We have a role in making disciples—planting and watering—but God is the one who causes the growth (1 Cor. 3:7). We need to be praying faithfully, consistently, and expectantly for God to bear fruit for his gospel in and through us. These prayer times will not be focused on praying for our own needs or problems (those are important and we want to keep praying for them in other venues). But these prayer times will focus explicitly on our mission as a church—praying for the lost; praying for opportunities to love, serve, and share; praying for revival here in the MetroWest. Because mission and discipleship are ultimately God’s work, we must begin with prayer.
The second offering is our 2015 preaching series, “The Gospel for All of Life.” The gospel, or good news of Jesus, is not only what saves us; it’s also what changes us. As we seek both to follow Christ and help others follow Christ, our greatest need is for the gospel to impact every part of our lives. So instead of working through one specific book of the Bible this year, which is our normal course, we’ll be looking at many different passages in order to explore and apply the practical realities of the gospel to everyday life—the gospel in me, in the church, at home, at school, at work, in the public square, and to the ends of the earth.
The third opportunity is Discipleship Coaching with Pastor Brandon and Pastor Bruce. We don’t just want to talk about disciple-making, we want to help you do it by doing it with you. Starting in early 2015, we will be forming triads (or groups of three) that meet biweekly to help you grow as a disciple and equip you to make disciples, as you learn how to invest spiritually in others for the sake of the gospel.
The fourth offering is our 2015 Life on Mission Conference on March 20-22, which will focus on the theme of spiritual multiplication. We have two great speakers, both of whom have a passion for seeing churches grow and flourish in intentional disciple-making: Bland Mason will join us again from City on a Hill Church in Boston/Brookline, along with Godwin Sathianathan from South Shore Baptist Church in Hingham.
Finally, Mark Bauer will be teaching a class during our C.E. hour called, “The Characteristics of Christian Discipleship.” The aim of the class will be to help build a radical discipleship among us through a framework of visible characteristics that include Christlikeness, nonconformity, maturity, simplicity, balance, and others traits. The course is based upon John Stott’s The Radical Disciple.
Of course these five opportunities are neither the only thing we’re excited about, nor the only thing happening in the name of disciple-making at Westgate. There are so many people hard at work, contributing through so many different ministries—from music to Christian education to outreach to prayer—and each one plays a special part. Our prayer is that everything about our lives, relationships, and ministries would flow out of and point back to the gospel of Jesus, and that God would be pleased to make his beautiful name known in and through us in the year ahead.
Please join us in that prayer, and consider how you might be a part of what God’s doing at Westgate in 2015.
Your servants for Christ’s sake,