"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations...They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer...Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts...And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved" (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:42-47, NIV 2011).
We gathered in chairs on a brick covered floor with a view of the lake, 20 medical student men and two Christian doctors. We worshipped and learned. We were taught disciple-making by both students and doctors. We were pointed to the Great Commission and learned that God's great strategy is for us as individuals to, one by one, bring people to Christ and, one by one, train other Christians in the manner that Jesus did His own disciples-the method of Jesus, the method responsible for the amazing growth of the first church and the method today responsible for the amazing growth of the underground church in China . We were taught that this is our primary purpose as Christians, that local churches are failing this commission because they are focusing on institutional worship rather than the individual discipling work that Christ demands from us. The teaching we received on that brick floor in that lake house was validated by Scripture and by the lives of scores of people who are coming to Christ through this ministry in our city.
I left early Sunday morning because of local church responsibilities. The worship in church was real. I met Christ in the church service that morning, just as I had at the lake house. The pastor poured his heart out regarding our primary responsibility to worship, teaching us that all work for Christ must flow from that worship encounter.
What do I do with this?
Here were two great experiences with Christ, both espoused by people of the Lord whom I trust.
It is probable that the discipling ministry is presently bringing more people to Christ than many local churches. The discipling ministry is grounded in the Word with a strategy that clearly changes lives and rapidly multiplies followers of Christ. With this life model the strategy itself is primary, under God's leadership and power, straight from Matthew 28:19-20, unencumbered by institutions. Community worship is taught as important, but not the primary focus of our faith.
And then there is community worship: accomplishing that for which we are created: community coming into the presence of God. The local church with its organizational structure, led by pastors and priests preaching God's word as God brings it to them, drawing us all before the throne of grace, with pews of people seeking God's plan for their lives-sometimes described as ineffective in expanding God's kingdom, the place where I came to know Him and from which I was sent out to pour my life into His service.
Thus, in this same week both the individual discipling ministry and community worship claim to be the central focus of God's plan for me. Which one is primary in God's plan? Which direction should I most focus my energy and time?
Somehow, the answer is both. Somehow, God doesn't limit himself to directional thinking as I do. Somehow, worship is central no matter what. Somehow, I need to examine my life and see where I am failing both discipling and community. Somewhere, I need to change.
Let me take seriously my responsibility to bring disciples along with me to your throne. Let me never try to do it alone, but always in community and always with worship.