Many do not understand the Great Commission and this is partly due to the fact that Matthew recorded a very different version of it than Mark, Luke and John. I am not saying that Matthew was wrong (after all, it did make the Cannon), I am saying his point of view is different with that whole discipleship thing.
What do I mean by that? If you read Matthew 28:19 besides Mark 16:15-20 or Luke 1:7-8, you will see that there is something very different. Mark and Luke put emphasis on the power of the Holy Spirit to heal the sick and set the captive free as proof of the gospel. Matthew did not speak of miracles but what we call discipleship.
In my spiritual heritage, the emphasis has always been that miracles confirms the gospel. After all, Mark did say, “…the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” The stories of John G. Lake, Smith Wigglesworth, Aimee Semple McPherson, Oral Roberts, and John Wimber were common around the table.
We always knew that Matthew 28:19 was there but we kinda just left that to the Baptists who did not believe in the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. They could nothing but discipleship. After all, they didn’t believe in healing the sick and raising the dead. Harsh as it sounds, it is how much of the Pentecostal movement sees this passage in light of the difference between Matthew and the rest of the passages.
Discipleship is best done by fathers
I remember hearing a man from New Zealand speak when I was in a meeting during the Toronto Blessing. His name was James Jordan and he spoke of the Fathering nature of the gospel. He kept talking about 1 Corinthians 4:15. It is a passage that really messes up our whole idea of what discipleship really is.
Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.
The maturity of the believer should be done by fathers, not teachers. This changes everything. Most churches are trying to discipline by teaching but are they raising up spiritual sons and daughters. If a church claims to be a “family” and they are serious about mentoring the young believers as spiritual children; something is wrong.
The problem we have is when we do not focus of spiritual fathers and mothers, we reduce the idea of discipleship to a mere academia practice that is just like learning biology or chemistry. It is about learning information and the application of it for a designed purpose. It makes the whole experience one of education, not spirituality.
Discipleship is not something that can be done in Sunday School and it can not be done in our cell groups (that we ripped off from South Korea). It happens when people have the Elijah and Elisha relationship. Paul had a spiritual fathering role to Timothy. That is how it works best. One on one around the barbeque pit; not from the pulpit.
Discipleship as we know is brainwashing
I have long believed there was a fine line between the two. I went to what YWAM calls a “Discipleship Training School.” It is a course that is several months long that is focused on the fundamentals of the faith. The problem is it is based on information and not impartation. It is mostly teaching and required reading. This borderlines brainwashing. It is not just YWAM doing it, either. Almost every major mission group has the same unbibical concept.
When I went to bible college, I expected to have an educational experience. When I went to seminary, I am paying for the educational experience. When I am do discipleship, I expect to be more about mentorship than I do education. This is the problem with the model we have in most churches.
The Bible declares that God will turn the hearts of the Fathers to the children and the children to the fathers. I am not sure how we think this will work when we are more focused on developing students than spiritual children in our churches. The reality is a pastor can not father a church from the pulpit; he can only present information and release impartation.
Churches that focus on training them with information are like a man that goes around town, getting women pregnant but then leaving town without being a parent to the child. We just end up with a generation that is very educated in the scriptures but have no fathers to guide them in spiritual things.
Raising up spiritual sons
I was saved in the Brownsville Revival. The main speaking in the meetings was Evangelist Steve Hill. He was mentored by Leonard Ravenhill. It was from that relationship that Steve became the man that could lead the greatest revival in American history. It was not going through school and getting information. It was that mentoring relationship that made the difference.
People wanted to share in Ravenhill’s mantle and carry his mandate to the Bride of Christ but they did not want to share in his sackcloth and ashes. They want to stand with him in the pulpit but they did not want to weep with him in the prayer room. Sons and daughters are those who also share the sackcloth and ashes with their spiritual fathers and mothers.
It was because of those times in prayer and mentorship that the Brownsville Revival broke out on Father’s Day 1995. It was an outpouring of everything that Steve Hill received from his spiritual father, Leonard Ravenhill. That is how true discipleship works.
I look back at the several things that I know that I am anointed to do and I received what I have from men that operated in that mentored me, not just reading books and watching videos. It is true that anointing can only be caught but not taught.
God opened the door for me to be mentored by the pastors that had the fastest growing church in America back in 1999-2001. It was a mentoring experience to be there and to be close to the leadership. It was about being a spiritual son. Due to that relationship, I learned the practicals of planting a mega-church in one of the most saturated markets for faith in the United States.
Discipleship is about spiritual sons and daughters. That’s all I am saying.