Making Northern Disciple Makers

Tags: Alaska, Canada, SEND North, Church Planting, Discipleship, Story

Parenting is hard work. My wife and I are grateful for our two boys who are 12 and 4 years old. Both of our boys bring us great joy, but we are often humbled by our inability to love them well. As any parent knows, keeping children safe is a challenge, but raising kids to be mature adults can feel impossible at times. After all, how do we define maturity? What is our goal? Are they mature just because they can pay rent, drive a car, hold a job, or cook Ramen Noodles?

For my boys, I will consider them mature when they can adequately care and provide for their own families. As a result, at times I remind them, "When you are a parent someday, you will..." or "when you are a husband, you will need to..."

 The goal is not just for them to "show up" to adulthood with a job and a place to live, they need to learn that maturity means caring for the people God has entrusted to them.

 It was obviously not an accident that Jesus' final words to His disciples commanded them to "make disciples" (Matthew 28:19-20). He did not want them to simply live life remembering the "good old days" of Jesus' time on earth. He left them with a job. He expected them to care for the spiritual needs of the people next door and around the world.

 Jesus explained that making disciples meant to "baptize them" (i.e.,. witness to people and bring them to the point of following Jesus) and to "teach them to obey all I have commanded you." Notice he did not simply say to "teach them," but to "teach them to OBEY." Jesus did not want knowledgeable students; he wanted committed followers. Furthermore, he wanted disciples who would take ALL of his commands seriously.

 This should cause us to stop and give very intentional consideration to the commands of Christ. Take a moment and write down as many as you can remember. Now take a look at your list, did you remember to include Christ's command to "go and make disciples?" If not, your list is incomplete.

If we are going to take Christ's Great Commission seriously, we have to remember that the job is not done until those people who we disciple also learn to obey Jesus' command to make disciples. Disciple-making is not only for pastors, missionaries, and other perceived "super" Christians. Jesus expects all of his followers to grow to maturity, and maturity means learning to raise up the next generation.

For the past 15 years, SEND North has passionately focused on Gospel proclamation in the villages of Alaska and northern Canada. We have seen God grow our village church planting presence from 4 families to nearly 50 people, yet we know the work is far from finished. Although many Northern people have heard the gospel, there are very few healthy churches because there are very few local people who understand their part in making disciples.

To help us focus on this reality, SEND North has recently revised our vision statement:

To see every community of the 60/70 Window filled with local disciple-makers who meet together regularly and have established regional leadership.

We want to take the same passion and enthusiasm that we have for Gospel proclamation in the villages, and see disciple makers formed for the glory of Christ.  In the weeks ahead, we will add additional blog posts to further unpack our new vision statement.   You can also join us on social media to follow along as God unfolds our path to fulfill His vision.

Jim Stamberg,

SEND North Area Director

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