Jesus gave the church its marching orders in practical terms. You’re familiar with His words:
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)
Here, in Jesus’s Great Commission to His followers, we find no greater challenge . . . and no more comforting promise. This is what Jesus meant when He told them, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21).
But you probably have never considered the Great Commission as part of what makes a church contagious.
One Command—Two Parts
The command to “make disciples” has two parts.
- The first, “baptizing them,” assumes that we’ll share our faith with the lost.
- The second, “teaching them to observe,” directs us to share our lives of faith with those who have believed in Jesus.
Looking at the second chapter of Paul’s final letter to Timothy, we see the practical outworking of how the Lord intends this “teaching” to occur:
The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2)
This verse offers us a practical principle: Churches that are contagious faithfully mentor those who are coming along in the Christian life.
The verb that gives us this direction is “entrust.” The term literally means, “to deposit as a trust.” I like that image. We invest the truth like a trust in the lives of others.
It is a valuable message that we pass along to others.
A Process and a Question
Paul’s words to Timothy outline a process of multiplication that can be visualized in a simple progression:
Paul –> Timothy –> faithful men and women –> others also
Duane Litfin, president emeritus of Wheaton College, calls this “the endless chain of Christian discipleship.” The Navigators call this the “ministry of multiplication.” Both are correct. There is no question; this is an essential part of a contagious church.
But there is a question I must ask: Is this process occurring in your ministry as a pastor?