And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
It was about this time when Jesus would have spoken these words to the disciples. In the previous weeks Jesus had appeared several times since His resurrection appearing to over 500 according to the Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 15:6), but here He gives what is called the “Great Commission.” He begins by affirming His authority based on what was accomplished at the Cross and then He commissions the disciples to do this important task in the Name of the Triune God: “Make disciples.” Make disciples by baptizing them and teaching them.
According to Acts 1:8, Jesus also told His disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Jesus called them, and us, to proclaim what Christ has done, assured that God’s Holy Spirit will work conviction and faith, creating a hunger within those who hear the Good News to know the things of God through His Word and to become His disciples. We see this happen just a few weeks later at Pentecost at the coming of the Holy Spirit. The disciples are empowered and Peter begins preaching boldly to those who had condemned Jesus in that very place. Picking up at Acts 2:32, Peter proclaims,
“This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:32-42)
Empowered by the Holy Spirit they proclaimed the truth of what Christ had done and then made disciples. Disciples who “devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
As I have been studying these passages over the last several months, I can’t shake the feeling that this is really what should be the goal of our churches: to instill the idea in each member of the Body of Christ that we are each called to witness to the Good News of what Jesus has done as well as to use our gifts and talents to make and equip disciples; which is exactly what Jesus told us to do before ascending into Heaven.
As a pastor for over 25 years, I can tell you that that has not always been my goal and focus. And while there were a lot of good things that I and the churches I served were focused on, they weren’t this, and they weren’t what was best.
As I look at our world, and our churches today, it has made me wonder what things might look like if we had been more focused on making disciples. Not on getting more people to attend, not on trying to keep everyone happy, not even on reaching a greater number of un-churched people; but on making and equipping disciples who would then make and equip disciples.
The good news is that it’s not too late! God is still at work and the church can re-focus its attention on this call. But it will take a willingness to admit that we have not been seeking the greatest good. That in many ways we have placed our own comfort and ease ahead of this definitive call. It will take a willingness to admit that we have not been seeking to make and equip disciples, or even stating that as the standard to which Jesus desires us to commit to. It will also take a willingness to make this our stated goal. A goal that rightly fits with the New Testament’s teaching of our dying to self that Christ might live in us. A goal that meshes with Scripture’s teaching that this world is not our home; that we have been called as ambassadors for Christ, that our mission is to implore all on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God through Him.
Friends, this is the Church our world needs to see and hear from right now. The Church that proclaims in word and deed that Jesus is alive and at work in our world today, that He is the Christ, the Son of God, and through faith in Him they too can have life in His Name. The Church that is focused on making and equipping disciples who then make and equip disciples, and that is committed to living out this God-dependent life and to the Kingdom of God alone.
This is our commission and calling and the only way we will recover the world-changing, life-giving power that transformed the world two millennia ago. I invite you to join me in praying for God’s Holy Spirit to work this again in us, to open our eyes and revive our hearts to be that Church again, to begin this work even now, first in us, and then in our churches. May we once again be that Church that brought Light, Faith, Hope and Love to this world, through the message of the Gospel, both in our words and our actions. To His praise and Glory. Amen.
Online Evangelism and Discipleship Library
We are making good progress on redesigning our website and are now at a point where we are looking at content to fill this library. Our goal is to provide online access to a variety of videos, documents, materials, etc., which are focused on evangelism and discipleship and are consistent with our Free Lutheran perspective. This content will range from informative to instructional to inspirational, with the purpose being to challenge, equip, and assist our congregations in making and equipping disciples.
As you can tell this is a large task and one we could really use your help with. What we are asking for is that you prayerfully reflect on what “means” God has used, either in the past or currently, to help you grow spiritually. What “tool” did God use to help you come to saving faith in Him, or has or is using to help you grow as His disciple or in helping others come to faith in Christ and grow as His disciple. Maybe it’s a book that you read or a Bible study that you are a part of or a disciple making program or a witnessing tool that you were taught. Maybe it’s a video series or a movie that God has used to really minister to you. These tools that God has or is using in your life are tools that we would like to make available to everyone through this library. What we would like from you, then, is to share these tools with us so that we can share them with others.
How this will work is through our online submission forms that can easily be filled out, sharing what “tools” God has or is using to make an impact in your life as a disciple or in helping to lead others to Christ and become His disciple. One will be for resources that have been spiritually helpful. Things like a book you read, a video you watched online, a ministry tool that you came across online, or even ministry tools that you have developed. These submissions will ask for a description of what the resource is, where it can be found, along with some questions as to how and why you think this would be helpful for others. The other submission form will be for sharing different ways that God has worked in your life. It could be how God brought you, or helped you lead someone else to faith in Christ. It could be how God carried you through a difficult time or how you saw Him miraculously work in someone else’s life. These personal testimonies of God at work in our lives is inspiring and encouraging to the Body of Christ and glorifying to God, and we are hoping that you will share what God has done in your life or church, so that we can share them with others.
What I would ask is that you prayerfully consider what God might have you share or contribute and then come to our website at www.aflc.org/evangelism and fill out the appropriate submission form. If you have any questions along the way, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be glad to help you. Thank you in advance for your invaluable assistance with this project.
Bringing AFLC Evangelism and Discipleship to Your Church
We have received some inquiries about coming out to local congregations and sharing about the work of evangelism and discipleship and the answer to that is, “Yes! We would love to come out and visit your congregation.” Pastor Nelson is available to come out and do anything from bringing a brief welcome and introduction to AFLC Evangelism and Discipleship during a Sunday morning service, to bringing a full Sunday School presentation and preaching the morning message. He is also available to meet with pastors and congregation leaders in assessing their congregation’s needs and assisting in developing future ministry plans. If you are interested in having Pastor Nelson come to your church, please drop us an email at email@example.com, or you can contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to schedule a visit.
Updates & Prayer Requests
Please be in prayer for our “Rekindle the Fire” event scheduled for Tuesday, June 15th for our AFLC pastors and their wives. Our presenter will be Pastor Jerry Nelson and the Pastor and Congregational Care Team (PACCT) and they will be sharing practical tools in managing stress.
Please pray for the “Reawakening to the Mission” Conferences planned for this fall in Arlington, SD in September; Roseau, MN in October; and Arlington, WA in November of this year. Please pray that all the details will come together for these gatherings and that they will be encouraging, equipping and uniting events for these regions.
Please continue to pray for our Speaker Program. Please pray that congregations will feel free to consider preparing for some type of special meeting in their church or community in the next year. Please also be in prayer for the Special Meetings Handbook that will describe the value of annual special meetings, how to prepare for them, and how the Speaker Program works to assist congregations in having successful events.
Please pray for the process of collecting useful resources for our online Evangelism and Discipleship Library where our AFLC church members and pastors can come for video and digital tools that will inspire and assist in making and equipping disciples from a Free Lutheran perspective.
Please join us in praying for our AFLC Annual Conference which will be hosted by our Free Lutheran Bible College and Seminary June 16th-19th in the new Student Life Center.
Finally, please continue to pray for this ministry as we seek to encourage, equip and assist our congregations and pastors in these unique times.
Thank you for your prayers!
Monthly Giving Receipts for April 2021 $11,763
2021 Monthly Budget $10,933 May Mid-Month Receipts $3,351 ($7,582)
Thank you for your continued prayer and financial support!
With You in His Service, Pastor Randy Nelson, Director
AFLC Evangelism and Discipleship
3110 E. Medicine Lake Blvd.
Plymouth, MN 55441
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." – Matthew 28:19-20