No greater learning comes than what we learn on mission. No greater fellowship is experienced than what we experience on mission. No greater disciples are produced than those produced on mission. When we get off the couch with our small groups and live together on mission, we'll learn a ton, love each other more, and we'll truly be Jesus' disciples.
It's time for your group to get up. Go out. Look with Jesus' eyes. Find a cause. Meet needs. Share the gospel. Change the world!
The Band of Brothers Effect
Veterans who return from war describe a connection to the other men in their units that is unlike anything else. During basic training these men came from all over the country. They had different religious backgrounds, different accents, different family traditions, and different political views. Often these men don't like each other upon their initial meeting. It wasn't uncommon in such environments for men in the same unit to get into arguments that ultimately came to blows.
Then a day came when these men who didn't even like each other were forced to fight alongside one another. They saw fellow soldiers getting wounded and killed, and suddenly everything changed. Religion, politics, family background, and accents didn't mean anything anymore. Those barriers were broken down to the point that men who didn't like each other two days before would now risk their lives for one another. Years later war veterans gather for annual reunions. Each year they seem to be able to pick up right where they left off. These men who didn't like each other wind up being friends for life.
What made the difference? They had a shared mission.
Along a similar line, what those soldiers learned in their training was good to a point, but it was combat that became their best teacher. Suddenly all the drills they'd been through made more sense. Suddenly the countless hours spent cleaning guns and preparing gear were worth it. Suddenly that mean drill sergeant back home didn't look so bad. Before combat they had knowledge, but afterwards they had experience.
What made the difference? Again, it was the mission.
Discipleship Comes from Mission
Make no mistake, you and the members of your small group are in a war. It's a spiritual war, and the cost is greater than human lives—it's human souls. Eternity is at stake and church leaders have been given the sobering task of equipping God's army for this war. So we must take careful aim!
Consider the three ingredients for discipleship discussed earlier: relationships, knowledge, and action. When we aim our small-group discipleship methods at relationships and knowledge, we don't get action. Not to any great degree, anyway. Yet when we aim our small-group discipleship methods at mission, we get all three.
How did Jesus make disciples? He invited them to be a part of the mission. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men" (Mark 1:17). He didn't invite them first to the upper room for a Bible study. He invited them to the mission! Jesus paints a word picture of the church in Matthew 16:18: "I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." He didn't picture the church holed up in Sunday-school rooms studying Scripture so we could keep Satan at bay. He painted a picture of the church on a mission—the mission of storming Hell's gates and liberating the souls of people who are damned without Christ.