Thursday, August 19, 2010

Baptizing vs. Making Followers...

Having grown up within the faith tradition of Churches of Christ, I've been nurtured on the imperative to teach people about Jesus and to rejoice as they seal that relationship with him in the waters of baptism. I believe that imperative is biblical and fundamental to our living as Christ-followers.

What gives me pause is my sense that we often feel (or act) as if our responsibility has ended when the new Christian steps dripping out of the waters of baptism. Walking alongside the newly minted believer, encouraging them in their walk with Jesus... especially as they encounter the inevitable bumps on the road of that journey, and continuing to mentor and teach them--well, that's hard work. And it involves significant commitment on the part of older, more mature Christian brothers and sisters.

It's been my observation we consider this
"disciple making" will somehow happen routinely in the on-going of the new believer's relationship with church. But from my vantage point over the several years I've spent in church world, this often doesn't happen.

More often than not, when we leave baby Christ-followers to fend for themselves, they don't fend very well. And before too many months have passed, many of these new Christians who are still noted in the church's statistical record have been reclaimed by the world.

The bottom line: we are called not just to baptize people, but to walk alongside them and help them grow into followers/disciples of Jesus. Isn't that the Kingdom imperative Jesus is commissioning us with in Matthew: 28:19-20?

"So go and make f
ollowers of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything that I have taught you..."

Don't misunderstand... I'm not suggesting we stop baptizing people. I'm just referencing the words of Jesus and being re-convicted that he is calling us to more than just getting people into the water of baptism. Jesus expects us to commit to the long walk of disciple-making as new believers step out of the water and back into the world.