While attendance for church services and programs might be down during this Covid season, I’ve seen many engage in deeper and more intimate relationships with Jesus and His followers. This is a beautiful thing and reflects the practice of following Jesus’ call for us to “go and make disciples” (Matt 28:19), whether we are in a pandemic or not.
While living through this Covid time has impacted many of our spiritual rhythms, we have an opportunity to capitalize on the way things are changing. During this pandemic, some people might be reluctant to go to large group settings, but deep down they still long for connection and relationship. While they might not accept an invitation to a large church service, they may jump at an invitation to go get coffee, grab dinner, or hang out outside. It’s in these smaller settings that intimacy can take place and transformation can occur.
While church attendance might be suffering, it’s an ideal time for discipleship to be thriving! And discipleship seems to be Jesus’ primary vehicle for growing His followers. When studying the scriptures, we see that when Jesus calls people to follow Him, He isn’t calling them to a church service or a Bible study (yes, those can be really good things); we see that Jesus is calling them into a relationship…a relationship with Him, and with each other.
When observing Jesus in His discipleship relationships, we see that He lived life with them, traveled with them, and ate with them. They were with one another in community. He served them and gave them experiences that helped shape them.
So, when Jesus calls us to “go and make disciples”, we can assume He is calling us into deeper relationship with one another. You don’t have to be a scholar to disciple someone. In fact, it was John Wesley that once said, “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.”
Hear this again: Jesus is looking for willing followers to enter into relationships with others. You need not be a theologian, you need not be an expert in anything, you also need not have your act all together (do any of us actually have it all together!?!). Jesus is looking for His followers to be available to others, to love unconditionally, and to point others to Him throughout the everyday details of life.
This pandemic season is a perfect time to invite someone into a discipleship relationship. Are you willing to disciple someone?
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20)