Baseball is a pastime with a beloved history in our nation. As America turns their eyes towards the All-Star game this week, we can use leverage our collective knowledge of the game as a powerful analogy of what it actually means to make disciples. Stemming from Matthew 28:19-20, Christians are driven by the command to make disciples, but how we actually go about making disciples leads down many divergent paths. For some, making disciples is knocking on people’s doors and trying to argue unsuspecting homeowners into the kingdom of heaven. For some it’s handing out pamphlets while others focus on trying to teach more and more Bible knowledge to those who already believe. You can put four different Christians in a room and get five different opinions about what it means to actually make disciples.
But think about it this way: I was born near Los Angeles and have been a fan of the Dodgers since I could first say “Dodger Blue.” I’m currently transitioning my family to the Washington, D.C. area, home of the Washington Nationals. I’m already emotionally invested in the Dodgers as ‘my team.’ So, if you were a Nationals fan, how would you ‘convert’ me to start following the Nationals? How would you make me a ‘disciple’ of your team? Think about it for a moment. What would you do?
Here are some things that could work:
- Be passionate yourself.
- Hook me up with some free gear.
- Bring me to a game.
- Work on my kids.
- Connect me to your tribe.
- It helps if your team is good.
- Teach me the basics.
- Connect me to a greater purpose.
- Commit for the long haul.
If you approach me from those angles, you’ve got a relatively decent chance of ‘converting’ me, and you can understand the basics of what it means to ‘make disciples’ in today’s world. Here are those previous nine bullet points, reimagined for the church today:
- Be passionate yourself. Your passion for Jesus sets the temperature for other’s passion for Jesus. How often do you talk about him? How excited are you about him? How engaged are you in worship? Is church something you’ll pop in for once a month if there’s nothing else on the calendar? How passionate are you for Jesus? If we’re not dripping with passion, if excitement for Jesus isn’t oozing out of our pores, why would we expect anyone to be passionate about Jesus? How can I increase my own passion for Jesus?
Bless others. Blessing others by serving them sacrificially creates a platform to share your passion about Jesus. Who can I bless this week and how can I specifically bless them?
- Bring them to church. Let them experience a game! Let them experience what makes worship services so special. At least three times a year everyone should have someone new sitting next to you in church. Who can I bring to church with me next Sunday?
- Invest in their family. Kids and student ministries need to be best funded ministries of church. The way to a parent’s heart is through their kids. We want kids dragging their parents to church. How can I intentionally invest in the next generation?
Connect them to community. Everyone needs a tribe. It’s why small groups at your church are so vital. People need to be known because they want to belong. Who can I invite into a community group with me?
- Show them why Jesus is better. The key to this is you can’t just show them with words, but with your life. If your life doesn’t look any better than theirs, why would they want to change? It would be like saying, “Come be a Christian like me! I’m miserable, I’m stuck in sin and I go to a boring church. Come be like me!” How can I depend more on God and allow His Spirit to live through me?
- Teach them the basics. People need to know the Bible, doctrine, how following Jesus changes your life at work, home, and school. But don’t lead with this. This comes a little later on, but it is vital. Who are three people in my life that I can begin to intentionally mentor in the faith?
Help them discover purpose. Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves. A key part of the discipleship process is helping them discover their purpose so that they can make a difference. Have I discovered my specific purpose in the Kingdom and am I leaning into it?
- Commit for the long haul. Making true disciples requires more than many of us are willing to give, which is why most of us don’t do it. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Our determination to see our neighbors saved has to be stronger and last longer then their desire to stay on the road to hell. What can I sacrifice for the sake of the gospel?
Enjoy some baseball this summer, and along the way reimagine just how we’re called to make disciples in the 21st century.