Make Disciples, Not Fans

by | May 9, 2020 | Faith | 2 comments

Remember the story of Jesus calming the storm? It’s easy to picture it: The boat was being swamped by the wind and waves. The disciples (seasoned fishermen) were convinced they were doomed and wake Jesus (asleep in the back of the boat … huh?), who promptly commands the sea: “Peace, be still!”

Our usual take-aways include…

  • Jesus has authority over nature.
  • Jesus can calm the storms in life.
  • We can always trust Jesus to show up in our darkest hour.
  • Jesus responds to our needs when we call upon him.
  • The disciples didn’t understand who Jesus was.

All true. But there’s something else we should see: Jesus’ disciple-making intention.

At this point Jesus had been with his disciples for around 18 months. During that time he had taught extensively, revealed mysteries, defended his identity and performed lots of miracles—including bringing dead people back to life. His 12 disciples had seen it all.

But up to now they hadn’t actually practiced their faith. Put another way, they were Jesus’ biggest fans but hadn’t yet played the game. It was as if they were wearing his jersey and admiring his poster on their wall. But Jesus knew his disciple-making mission wouldn’t work with his followers being fans. He needed them to be practitioners.

To change their perspective, Jesus began putting them in situations where they had to actively—and exclusively—rely upon him. This was their first real “game” experience … and they failed:

“The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (‭‭Mark 4.38-41)

They accused him of not caring for them. They assumed they were going to die. They obviously didn’t know him for who he was—which itself “terrified” them. Jesus hits the nail on the head:

  • “Why are you so afraid?”—Point: How can you be afraid of your circumstances if you believe in me as Lord?
  • “Do you still have no faith?”—Point: After all you’ve seen and heard, is your faith so small that you allow your circumstances to convince you of a lie?

Jesus is preparing them to be players, not just spectators.

RE: Our Faith

Tim Keller has said it well: “You don’t know that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.” Until we’ve relied exclusively on God, our faith is still on other stuff. In the West, there are so many things we can trust in (our abilities, experience, money, position, network, power, authority, intelligence, job security, etc.). Obviously, these aren’t necessarily bad—but reliance upon them can distract us from trusting God.

It’s easy to become fans of the concept of faith, to know the rules of the game without actually taking part in it. When this happens, our faith becomes vicarious—we live out our faith through the faith of our heroes. Because our heroes have great faith, we presume we do, too.

Consider…

  • With the COVID storm raging all around us, what are you afraid of?
  • How is your fear impacting how you view your circumstances?
  • How would a stronger faith change what you say to God?

RE: Our Disciple-Making

If we don’t actively engage our faith, we can’t model it for the people we’re discipling. And if our disciples don’t put their trust fully in God, how will their disciples?

If churches rely merely on teaching about faith to make disciples, how will their members grow their faith if they never put it into practice? What will they do when they find themselves in the storm? The answer is obvious: They will react just like Jesus’ disciples and cry out, “Lord, don’t you care that we’re going to die?!?”

Consider…

  • If we want to make disciples like Jesus did, we need to put them in situations where they can be practitioners and not settle for being fans.
  • How can you more actively model faith to the person(s) you’re discipling?
  • What will you do to move people from being faith “hearers” to being faith “do-ers”?

Let me hear from you. Please leave a comment about how this story speaks to you and what you will do differently.

Damian Gerke is on the leadership team of 1Body Church. He is married to Cheryl, his wife of 30+ years, and they have three grown children.

Damian has a diverse background that includes working as a design engineer in the aerospace industry, in vocational pastoral ministry and leadership and development coaching. He has written a book on leadership (Taking the Lead: What Riding a Bike Can Teach You About Leadership) and has an upcoming book on disciple-making movement strategy coming out soon: In the Way: Church As We Know It Can Be a Discipleship Movement (Again). He blogs regularly about leadership and life issues at DamianGerke.com, as well as faith and church leadership issues here at 1Body.church.

2 Comments

  1. Mark

    Great insight for both me as a practitioner and as I seek to make disciples that truly rely on Jesus. Love this Damian!

    Reply
    • Damian Gerke

      Thanks for committing to be in the game, Mark! Blessings to you!!

      Reply

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