Ray Jones is the Coordinator for Evangelism for the Presbyterian Church (USA). He has served the church as a pastor for twenty-five years. He has a heart for helping people grow in the love of God in Jesus Christ. This growth always includes our words and deeds. He is married and has two grown daughters. He has experienced training and education at Furman University, Columbia Theological Seminary, the church, and through living in the world.
Mike Breen, a pastor and author, has been part of starting hundreds of churches. Not long ago he wrote that he believes the missional movement will fail in North American because we are like a car without an engine. He writes that the missional church has become the beautiful, shiny new car that everyone is talking about right now. But no matter how beautiful or shiny the vehicle, without the engine, it won't go anywhere.
The engine of the church is discipleship. If we make disciples, we will get the church. But if we try to build the church, we won't necessarily make disciples. The Gospel of Matthew concludes with Jesus' words of going and making disciples (Matthew 28:16-20).
I'm learning that discipleship is something we do together. We engage practices that take us more deeply into a relationship with Jesus and into God's mission to reach the world. So, what are these practices?
What if every time we gathered, we shared scripture together? What if every time we gathered, we were in prayer for one another, the people around us, and our beautiful but broken world? What if every time we gathered, we would share our lives in such a way that we were held accountable for this new life in Christ? What if every time we gathered, we held one another accountable for how we are serving others and reaching out to share faith? What if every time we gathered, we helped one another become better stewards of the gifts we have been given?
What if these gatherings included our meetings, worship, opportunities to serve, fellowship, and study? What if they included all our meetings at 100 Witherspoon Street, our presbyteries, and when we meet for General Assembly? I believe we would be making disciples. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we would be transforming our churches and starting new ones.
The churches of my childhood stressed constantly the importance of personal evangelism, but there was something essential missing in the messages we heard. The emphasis was on souls being saved. Not once did we receive a message about serving people in need and being part of what God is doing to right ancient wrongs.
When I was a teenager, I found a home with Presbyterians. It was refreshing to to hear about and to be part of God's mission to the poor and mistreated. The messages resonated with me, but once again something essential to the gospel was missing ...
As I continue to do my work in evangelism, I keep going back to Jesus' words in Acts 1:1-8. He does not tell his followers to go and start churches. He does not tell them how to worship, serve, or study scripture; he tells them they will be witnesses when the Holy Spirit comes upon them (Acts 1:8).
We bear witness to the power of God's forgiving love in Jesus that has changed our lives. We bear witness to the reign of God through Jesus. As our lives change, we become the agents of change in our ...
We are called to make disciples. Seems like a simple thing. It's the ministry of the church. But we end up in countless meetings, planning programs, and struggling over denominational decline. We want to start new churches and transform our existing churches. And there is no easy plan for this ministry. But I'm becoming more convinced that if we are about making disciples, our churches will be transformed and we will start new communities of faith.
One of the things we must get right is that we must be the church for the world. We must be Jesus ...
Imagine what could change if the good news of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection was allowed to shape and inform all areas of our lives. The Apostle Paul writes that we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old life no longer defines us. We are set free from all that holds us captive and for God's mission of healing the world.