Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV) All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
While the primary verb in the verses above forms the mission (to make disciples), the participles "go," "baptize," and "teach" form the method. We cannot make disciples without going to them as Jesus came to us (Ph. 2), without baptizing them into a community of supportive believers, or without teaching them to obey the teachings of Jesus. These three things form the method of making a disciple and are fleshed out in the ministry of Jesus and in the book of Acts. Go, baptize, and teach also form the method of a movement of God. Jesus came ("go" from Heaven's perspective) to baptize, baptized them to teach them, and then taught them to go as He did. It is the basic method for making a disciple - go to baptize, baptize to teach, and teach to go.
I know what some may be asking: "Don't we become a disciple when we first believe?" This is a great question and really expresses the great problem of the church. We end at the starting line. We place great emphasis on introducing people to Christ but fail when it comes to teaching them to know HIM and obey His teachings. Jesus's commandment begins with the end in mind - not to BE a disciple but to MAKE disciples. He assumed the introduction had been made, the process had been completed, and all that these guys needed was the Holy Spirit to began reproducing. As I wrote in my first book Transformative Church Planting Movement:
We cannot make a disciple without going, baptizing, or teaching. But while baptizing is the first expression of faith, observed obedience is the proof a disciple has been made. While baptism is first grade, obedience to all the commands of Christ is graduation leading to our life calling. At the very least, I will know someone is a real disciple, not when they come to church as a result of my going or when they are baptized as a result of my witness, but when they are going as a result of my teaching them to obey all that Jesus has commanded. Going is the real sign of a real disciple. In many churches, we have subtly and gradually turned from the training of disciples as disciple makers to the making of pew potatoes who will stand before the Lord one day with the incompetent testimony, “I was there every time the doors were open.” At times, we have unintentionally created a consumer environment where going to church and helping in church is our way of purchasing an indulgence that entitles us to heaven and its benefits.
In addition, go to baptize, baptize to teach, and teach to go is not just the method; it also is the MEASURE of a God created movement. It measures the healthy progression of every individual, every group, every church, and every network of churches. Any small group that remains unchanged for an extended period - with no one coming in through conversion and no one going out on mission - is in danger of becoming unhealthy. Believers who sit in the same place, in the same row or circle, being taught week after week with little or no pressure to do anything about it, can become distracted by false teaching or turn their attention to the politics of the church. All of this knowledge going inside producing nothing outside creates fat, couch potato Christians who sit around naval-gazing or picking at the imperfections of others to avoid looking at themselves. Like milk left out of the fridge, they sit, sulk, and sour. They may have experienced "go to baptize" and an intellectual form of "baptize to teach" but need to be challenged to "teach to go." It is really very simple to have a movement of God. Individuals and the groups they form must continuously be moving toward the fulfillment of Jesus' statement, "teaching them to obey all I have commanded," which must include "Go and make disciples." Like every seed that becomes fruit has within it the seed to bear more fruit, every disciple has the potential within them to make disciples. The method of Jesus, who came from heaven to make disciples exhibited in baptism (go to baptize), who spent time teaching them to experience God (baptize to teach), and who mobilized them to do the same for others (teach to go), now falls to our generation - go to baptize, baptize to teach, and teach to go.
What's stopping you from being a part of a God-made movement?
Where are you in this process?
Are you stuck? Where? Why?
What do you need to do to get unstuck?
Who will you talk to about the need you have to get unstuck?