Jesus was the best teacher, but the disciples often asked Him, “What did you mean?” His willingness to stop and explain to them, answer their questions, demonstrated that other aspects of ministry, such as healing or preaching, were not more important than discipling them! Jesus’ life revealed the value and priority God places on discipling others.
Jesus told the apostles to pray for more laborers:
Mathew 9:35-38 “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
Laborer –a spiritual workman, which is a disciple.
Every believer qualifies in theory for this job of laborer. But how many believers are following Christ so faithfully that they are qualified to lead, teach, or be an example to someone younger in the faith? Every Christian is a potential worker for this labor force. Jesus was hurting for those people then and He is hurting for people now. It is Jesus Christ who saves a person and that is where our part begins, discipling them unto maturity as He did. Yes, we need to proclaim the gospel, give invitations to receive Jesus Christ, but EQUALLY important is the making of disciples!
Ephesians 4:16 “…from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”
Did you catch that? “Every part does its share”, so we each need to accept this call and do our part. It is a promise that obedience brings blessing, and every believer wants to be blessed. It is a great blessing to disciple others, to witness the power of God transforming another person, and to see God healing and strengthening families.
And speaking of families, we find in the first two chapters of the Bible that the family is the first institution that God created. Both the Old and New Testaments begin with stories of family. The nation of Israel grew from one family. In fact, the first mention of love is found in Genesis 22:2, where we learn of Abraham’s love for his son. In Deuteronomy 6:1-9, God made it clear that Israel’s survival as a nation required parents to disciple and train their children, raising them according to His instructions. Our Savior came into this world through a family and performed His first miracle at a wedding.
The sanctity of marriage is illustrated in Ephesians 5:25, when God exhorts a husband to love his wife in the same way He sacrificially loves His Church. In verse 22, God calls wives to affirm, honor, and submit to their husbands in order to show the world what God desires from His saints in return. These are just a few of the examples that point to the importance God places on the institution of the family. And, if the family is a priority for God, then it should also be a priority for the Church.
Over the years, Churches have progressed in ministry to children and youth by going beyond just having “Sunday school” and hiring youth pastors to develop groups and activities. It’s clear that Churches have made youth a priority; however, many have done little that is specifically aimed at teaching and enriching the marriages and parents that make up the families of those children. Focus as much attention on husbands, wives and parenting as we do on youth, and we will see real change in families and in the Church body. Statistics show that children parented according to biblical principles by parents who reflect Christ in their own lives are more likely to live for Christ after they leave home.