‘Who is going to Follow Up all these new disciples?’
This question often comes with some not-so-subtle underlying thoughts and ideas such as,
‘If you can’t follow up all these new disciples, why are you going out making disciples in the first place?’
‘Isn’t it better not to go and make disciples, then to fail to follow-up because we don’t have adequate people to follow up…’
And so the underlying premise goes…
And what’s wrong with those questions? Surely they are wise questions?
In this article, I want to challenge the underlying assumptions often attached to these questions…
But first, a little context…
In our particular work in the Church Sphere, we engage in Pioneer Mission including Making Disciples and the formation of New Churches (including what can be described as new forms of church, simple churches, missional communities et al). We seek as closely as possible to put into practice the words and works of Jesus as the early disciples did, the apostle Paul and his teams did and to learn principles from movement leaders across the centuries and ages and from movements currently around the world…
When searching the Scriptures and stories of Jesus, the idea of ‘Follow Up’ and the actual words ‘Follow Up’ are astonishingly largely absent…
There is a different phrase though that comes up more regularly in scripture, that seems to fit Jesus’ pattern…Jesus’ uses the words ‘FOLLOW ME!’ when it comes to making disciples…
One of his first instructions to his new would be disciples was;
‘Follow Me and I will teach YOU how to Fish for People’
And they then left their nets and followed him
When he met Matthew Levi, the tax collector at his workplace, he said to him ‘Follow Me!’ and he did!
Notice, the new disciples were given instructions straight away, and those who really wanted to become His disciples, obeyed Him!
The Apostle Paul used similar wording, he said, ‘Follow Me as I Follow Christ’
GO BACK and REPORT BACK
The call and the responsibility, was first on the potential new disciple. They were told, ‘Follow Me’ or ‘Follow Us’ or ‘Come and See’ and they either did, or…they didn’t.
Jesus didn’t ‘chase up’ or ‘follow up’ on any that didn’t pick up their cross and follow him…so why should we?
The Pioneer Workers or Traveling Workers heard Jesus’ Voice, and were then sent to a People and Place. When they arrived they would seek and save those who are lost, preach the gospel of the kingdom and call people to repent, believe and be baptised. They were taught to Follow&Fish and the basic foundations of Jesus Christ…
The Pioneer Workers then left, entrusting them (the new disciple community called the church) to the care of the Holy Spirit. And would keep in touch via letters or visits- but not to ‘Follow Up’ in the way people talk about it today – in the words of one Traveling Team;
‘Let’s go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing’ […] ‘Then he traveled throughout Syria and Cilicia (Turkey), strengthening the churches there’ (Acts 15:36, 41)
I urge us to stop ‘Following Up’ and start to Make Disciples by calling them to ‘Follow Us’ and ‘Fish for Others’
[If this article resonates with you, Follow Me!]
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