Making Disciples: A Conversation Across the Atlantic

Over the past or week or so, we’ve been at it… posting. Posting again, separated by an ocean, united by Christ.  We both approached the same subject from different angles, both concerned, both grieving, both seeking the answer.  Paul in England, Don in Virginia; we’ve never met, we’ve never spoken, but united by a common thread, a common hope, a common love, and joined in His purpose.  What follows is our exchange, our ideas, our hopes for ourselves, and for others.  In this conversation between followers of Jesus Christ, you will see our frustration and our concern, as well as our hope.  You might be irritated by it. You might even be convicted by it… and you might be inspired.  In the end, we both hope that you will come to a closer relationship with our Lord.

PAUL: Sitting here on my “spiritual see-saw” – looking at one end – looking at the other.

Seeing the fanatics and hellfire bible bashers a one end.  Seeing the Sunday is enough  for me crowd at the other.  Each as dangerous as the other.

At one end “False Preachers”.  At the other end “Sunday is Enough For Me.”  Both kinds of “religious folks” give God a bad smell.

One end tells the other end they are going to Hell in a basket!  Eternal damnation in the fires of Satan’s lair.  The other end look at their watches and mutter that the sermon has over-run by five minutes and their dinner will be burned.

And this, where “Make Disciples” is supposed to happen.

The ones you know.  The ones you have seen.  The ones who have damaged you. The let’s go a hunting and a fishing and a discipling – let’s go grab us some sinners – save their sorry souls – else they is on their way to Hellfire and Damnation! Bible bashers.  Fanatics.  Very insistent that they “Have the answer!”  Very keen you sign up not just for heaven, but also for tithing and emptying your wallet as often as possible “for the Lord!”

And the ones you sit with.  The ones you see on Sunday.  The ones who depress you.  That’s my seat you is sat in fella.  I always sit here every Sunday.  Be grateful if you would move along.  Hallelujah and praise the lord.  Arrive every Sunday smartly dressed and spick and span.  View church as a social gathering.  Important to be seen.  Be acknowledged.  Be a Christian.  Once a week. For an hour and a bit.

So why am I sitting in the middle?

Because that is where most sane and loving souls sit. Or wish they could sit.  Not in either “camp.”  Looking.  Looking for God in this brash flashy “I wear God on my sleeve” world.  Making sure God doesn’t get too far into their lives and souls.  This “religion” that swallows you up and sucks you dry with bible bashing, or slowly and silently dries you to a husk once a week on a Sunday.

That’s why I have written so much about “Make Disciples” and my concerns over that phrase.  Too often that is the only choice you are given.  The only choice there is.  And which is why the church is dying.  Slowly.  Week by week.

And which is why too many sacred souls are trampled in the dirty like so much dust.  Not even visible as anything other than “bums on seats.”  Souls to be counted as saved.  And then discarded

Does it have to be this way?

Don – does it have to be this way?

DON: Why do they do it; what do they hope to achieve by it?  What’s the point of doing it?  Can’t they see how much damage they are doing to the very thing they purport to advance?  Are you kidding me?

Oh, what is “it”?

“It” is giving the Gospel of Jesus Christ a bad name!

You know the ones I’m talking about; they are the ones who proclaim the Gospel of love with nothing but disdain! Disdain for the very ones for whom our Lord shed His precious blood. Disdain and contempt, as though they are so much better, so much superior, so much more righteous… ignoring the fact that there is nothing righteous about disdain, contempt and superiority, yes, you’ve seen them.

They take upon themselves the disguise of righteousness and holiness, yet they speak of “making disciples” as though it is a production line.  They speak of church growth in numbers, but ignore the essential component of spiritual maturity. They hurl “discipleship” around as though they were making disciples for themselves instead of making disciples of Jesus Christ, yes, you’ve seen them.

Yes, you know the ones I’m talking about, they are the ones who heap guilt and misery upon those who need to be healed, they beat over the head those who are already hurting, and they put to death those who are broken, yes, you’ve seen them.

You know the ones I’m talking about, they are the ones who think that sharing the love of Jesus Christ means telling a person they are headed for Hell.  They think sharing is the same as judging, and they fall entirely at their mission of salvation; yes, you have seen them.

But it doesn’t have to be that way…

Making disciples is what Jesus told us to do; to make disciples of Jesus Christ, not our own disciples.  This is the very consummation of the entire history of redemption, the very pinnacle of the teachings of Christ; for all that He taught us converges at this point: Make Disciples! Yet this command is not a command that refers to “making” like you might “make” an object; far from it. Jesus taught us that the two greatest commandments are Love God and Love Your Neighbor, and condemnation, disdain and contempt find no home in one of His disciples.

A disciple of Jesus knows what He taught us, and lives and acts accordingly every day, every hour… to the best of his or her ability, and by the grace of God. Jesus taught us that the world would know us because we love one another.  In loving we must be humble, decent and compassionate, particularly towards those who are lost, confused, hurting, grieving or broken.

Disciples of Jesus Christ are not made by a great speech or in a factory or by public relations and media; they are made in a community of fellowship, sharing, love and healing. Disciples of Jesus Christ understand that before they can make more disciples, they must first become one themselves.

Paul – you still there …?

PAUL And if you do not get that – then steer clear of “making disciples”.  Because like a bad cook you will add poison rather than pepper – and find your diners either running away sick or lying dead on the floor.

If you are taught that God was a crusty old guy in the Old Testament.  Smiting and genocide never seemed to do the trick.  So Plan B – Jesus arrives in a white shawl.  And everything is cool ever after.  We have a celebrity to emulate.  And we can do celebrity so well.

Steer clear of “making disciples”.  Wrong. So very very wrong.

Go back to Genesis.  Forget “evolution or creation” that argument is just one of timing.  Go back to Genesis and find God.  The same God who arrived in a white shawl.  The airbrushed, easier to live with version.  Same thing.  Same God.

Go back to any book in the bible and if you cannot find God – the same God in every book – then steer clear of making disciples. You will simply blind the very people you try to bring sight.

Now consider this …

I am is Love.  I am is God.  I am is One.  I am is.  And you are too.  Every single one of us of God, is of Love, is of I am.

We do not need “ministers” and clerics to tell us that.  Look in the mirror and see inside.  Look at the soul looking back.  The imperfect never will be perfect cannot be perfect soul looking back.  See into your eyes.  Not the colour.  Not the shape.  Look behind all that. That is I am.  That is you.

God Jesus already is.  You are already are.

And now I want to quote from another imperfect soul.  One just like you.  Just like me. One who “gets it”.  A mamma who knows.  And put this into words where I could not.  Who gave me the gift of eloquence so I could pass it on to you.

We do not so much “make disciples” as become disciples.

Now read why:

“We are not making anything.  It already exists.  We are sharing it. Introducing it to others.  (We are) revelling in it.”

That is the “what”.

What you might want to know, what I might know I want to know, is the “how”.  And that only comes through fellowship.  That only comes with others.  Each one of us letting our seed of faith germinate with others seeds.  Our little bit of god connecting with other little bits of god. Now imagine that exploding into something more beautiful, more exciting, more dynamic, more honest, more rewarding than anything you have ever known.

Want to know what I call that?  Would you be interested to join that?  No charge.  Totally free.  No strings.  No cost.  No guilt.  Nothing other than love.

You do?  Well then …  I give you … “Making Disciples.”

Just like Don has been saying again … and again … and again …

DON: So how shall we sum this up?

We are not the battle-cry kinds of disciples.  The battle-cry kind of disciples often tend to be carried away and end up doing more harm than good.  The roustabouts … the get up and get at ‘em kind of false “disciples”.

So I have no rousing battle-cry to end this conversation.

Instead I have something much simpler.  Much, much simpler.  I have our God.  Our God who has been since before.  Who has been since.  Who will be forevermore.

 Who is right now.

Our God has patience.  Enough to wait until you are ready.  Our God has infinite wisdom; He knows your heart. God wants you ”as you are.”  Not the spit and polish “who you are” – we can all do that – we all do… do that,  when it is not someone we love, someone who makes us feel safe, someone we trust with our lives.

Our God doesn’t need me to stick a verse in your face and shake it at you; He is bigger than that, He is wiser than that,  He is more loving than that.  He is – quite simply – Love itself.  And you will know when He is near.  You will know when one of His is near you.  You will know you are safe…

 You will know.

And that’s all I have to say, really.

Love is freedom:  Your freedom.  It is not my decision to “make” you do anything.  It is not my “job” to make you do anything.  I haven’t got that wisdom, I haven’t got that much love. None of us “disciples” have that much love on our own– no matter how much we wish, no matter how much we pray, no matter how thick we are with your God, my God:  Our God.


That decision is between you and God.  I have made my choice; the best one of my life.  I pray you will make that same decision too.  Then we can talk again.

A collaboration between:

Don Merritt:


We invite you to connect.  We vouch for them all.  Al of them “I am of I am.”

Little Monk:

Katie Bortell:

Kenneth Justice:



Insideheathers head:

Let’s Have Another Piece of Pie:

Discerning the Heart of God:

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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22 Responses to Making Disciples: A Conversation Across the Atlantic

  1. Lilabet says:

    This issue has been gnawing at me for decades….i feel I can’t phone any of my friends, save one, when I run across a verse in Scripture or a really inspiring/convicting article or devotional….they’d think I was a religious “nut”. Their eyes would glaze over if I were face to face with them. and then they’d leave saying “See you in church.” Really? Why? I’m not pretending to have all the answers on discipling or becoming a disciple or serving the Lord or many other things. but I wouldn’t feel comfortable approaching that subject with most of my Christian friends. How did we get here?

    • Don Merritt says:

      It’s a real problem! Clearly love is the answer, as people see the difference His love makes in our lives, but it’s a more difficult process than it should be since we’ve poisoned the well, you might say…

  2. Pingback: Making Disciples: A Conversation Across the Atlantic | A disciple's study

  3. David says:

    Reblogged this on Constant streams… and commented:
    Great discourse!

  4. Steve B says:

    Hi Don, This is a major problem in the western church. You could point him to my blog and the blog post called “The Professional Church”. Then he could print it out and hand it to church leaders.

    Although that doesn’t seem to work with me here. :):)

  5. fairyneedle says:

    This a huge part of why our youth are running out of churches in droves. One girl I know who was raised in a very strict, legalistic home told me she felt she’d been lied to by her church and family when she made a gay friend in college and realized she wasn’t the devil incarnate the way she’d been taught to see all gay people. I love how one pastor I follow puts it: we need to respect the masterpiece within that God wants to reveal in each of us. The Holy Spirit is the Master Artist that knows exactly how to restore that damaged masterpiece without damaging it. Our job as disciple makers is to introduce them to the Master lead them to a relationship with Him, where His restoration can do His transforming work of revealing the masterpiece He envisioned from the foundations of the world.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Exactly right! people need relationship with Jesus Christ, and a community of relationship where they can be healed. They really could do without being kicked when they are down and hurting already. Thanks for sharing your story!

  6. CreationMom says:

    Here’s one of the best messages I’ve ever heard on “Discipleship,” and not just because it was preached by my son. I promise you will hear insights you’ve never heard before, especially regarding Jesus as Rabbi. I’d like to know what you think. Listen to the podcast here:

  7. My good sir,
    I just wanted to say that I haven’t felt the need to comment on something like this for quite a while. Thank you for writing this, because of many of the issues that you’ve raised here, I have found myself being one of those people who have stayed away from church in a brick-and-mortar sense. Because so many of the preachers out there today seem to forget the very fundamental teaching of love God and love your neighbor. Hate, distain and condemnation are not things created of love. And I am also glad to hear this sentiment echoed. Once again thank you so much for writing this, and continue doing whatever it is you do, because I assure you things like this are making the world a much better place. Have a wonderful day.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Thank you so much, I really appreciate that. It is so sad when church leaders forget their first love and start pointing their fingers at others, but let’s also not forget that there are many wonderful preachers filled with God’s love for everyone who are leading love-filled congregations that provide hope, love and healing to all who join in. The only thing is, the wonderful churches don’t make so much noise and we don’t always hear about them…

  8. Reblogged this on The Musings of a Digital Vagabond and commented:
    I wish there were more public religious figures who thought of their religion this sanely

  9. I so agree with the outlook and pray for all to come into relationship with God and get out of religion that steers us into thinking we are more than we are. Amen!

  10. Almost forgot–thanks for stopping by my place :).

  11. Reblogged this on An Apple A Day…. and commented:
    A thoughtful iteration of my thoughts. Go into all the world and make disciples – disciples of Christ. Not go into all the world and make baptists or Catholics or Lutherans – etc. Bring Christ, not dogma.

  12. Wow Don, we have so much in common in our perspective. You visited my post, Creating Disciples and ‘liked’ it, so I came and found this post. I really liked your excellent comment: ‘They speak of “making disciples” as though it is a production line.’

  13. JCServant says:

    Awesome stuff…and something I so completely relate to, that I don’t have the time to type out all of the parallels. But, like many of your, I left institutional church many years ago, yet I cling onto my faith in Jesus everyday, by His Grace. if any of you want to chat or talk, feel free to hit me up on skype ( jcservant7 ) or email (jcservant at cyberlightcomics dot com).

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