Dear Friends,

As I continue to pray about and think about what our post-Covid church might look like, it occurs to me that the mission of the church, making disciples, will remain the same.  How we do that (programs and practice) will almost certainly need to change to meet the evolving needs and demands of the people we are trying to disciple.  Our challenge, as a church, is to not carry over anything from our pre-Covid practice into our post-Covid practice that hinders or eliminates our mission.

During our ongoing studies in the Gospel of Luke we are constantly seeing Jesus’ teaching and interaction with His followers.  We have even seen how Jesus chose and separated disciples who were advancing in their maturity for increased levels of instruction, experience and ultimately apostolic responsibility.  It was this master plan of discipleship that led to the establishment and vitality of the early church.  We here at Frederica Baptist stand at the crossroad of what was and what will be.  Our past is a tale of faithfulness and marching towards a God-given vision of establishing a new church on the north end of St. Simon’s Island that stands on the Word of God.  That vision is about to be realized!  It is time that we cast a new vision for the next leg of our journey.  That vision must be seen through the lens of our mission, making disciples. So, it behooves us to understand what it is to be a mature disciple.

(1) Mature disciples know God’s plan for salvation. In their hearts they know that they are slaves in bondage to terrible enemies: sin and death.  They see that they stand helpless and hopeless to save themselves so they need a rescuer—Jesus, our savior and redeemer.  Mature disciples acknowledge that Jesus exchanges His righteousness for our unrighteousness when He took on our sins at the cross.  He gives his followers eternal freedom from the just punishment for our sins and adopts us as sons and daughters into the family of God to be joint heirs of His kingdom.

(2) Mature disciples know the God that they serve. They recognize that He is beyond our ability to fully comprehend.  They see that God wants a relationship with them.  Mature disciples never stop striving to learn what God is like from His revelation in the Bible and in creation around us. They view the Bible as the story of God’s relationship with his people over the millennia, and they see his workmanship throughout the world around them.

(3) Mature disciples choose their identity in Christ over who this world says they should be. Rather than focusing on who they are, they focus on whose they are. They affirm that God created them in his own image to be his representatives here on earth.  They rejoice that Christ came and died on the cross to offer them a new and redeemed identity.   

(4) Mature disciples serve out of love. Scripture paints a clear picture for how we should treat our fellow human beings. In Zechariah 7, the prophet chastised God’s people for going through the religious motions then treating others poorly. Immature disciples may serve others when it’s convenient or when it makes them look and feel good. But mature disciples follow Jesus’ example with continuous service. They serve others by taking God’s love for people and making it their own.

(5) Mature disciples eagerly share their faith story.  The Good News of Jesus Christ is the greatest gift we can receive. Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we are adopted as God’s children. We are made holy, receive the Spirit, and enter into an eternal loving relationship with our Lord.  Mature disciples follow Jesus’ instruction to share his Good News with others: “Go into the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). Mature disciples desire that the transformation experienced in their own lives occur in the lives of others as well.  So, they share the good news and how it shaped their story of faith with those who need to hear it most.

(6) Mature disciples worship regardless of circumstance.  Their hearts are aware of God’s constant presence, and they can’t help but marvel at his glory.  Mature disciples see worship as a lifestyle. Their worship is not dependent on location, music style, or any other external factor. Mature disciples worship God even during tough times because they know that God is always worthy of praise.

(7) Mature believers defend their faith, their hope in Christ, just as the Bible encourages us to do: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15). Mature disciples are equipped to communicate God’s truth in a world that is hostile towards Him. They don’t share God’s truth in an overbearing way, but they display a confidence and a willingness to unashamedly and respectfully engage our culture.

(8) Mature disciples don’t take the journey of discipleship alone. When we’re adopted as children of God, we gain millions of spiritual siblings who are on the same journey.  Whenever Scripture describes the life of a disciple, it’s in the context of a community of faith. Mature disciples seek unity and community with other growing disciples.

Each of us must individually evaluate the maturity of our discipleship.  Being a disciple of Christ is a life-long journey.  As a church we are called to help each other and those outside our walls to draw closer to Christ.  I hope each of you will pray with me as we look forward to the next steps in the growth of our mission.

Only by Grace!

Pastor Mike