How Does the Church Make Disciples in Missions? - Radical
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How Does the Church Make Disciples in Missions?

What does true disciple-making look like in the life of a Christian? How can Christians most effectively make disciples? Disciple-making requires humility, as Christians seek to learn from others, rather than merely walking on their own. In order to lead others well, we must invest in a private relationship with the Lord. In this interview, Pastors David Platt and Mark Dever discuss the practical ways the Church can be actively making disciples on a day-to-day basis. Pastor Mark Dever expresses the importance of prayer over those in his community as he seeks out people to invest in and relationships to build.

  1. What it Means to be a Disciple
  2. Influential People
  3. Praying for People

In that journey where the Lord was drawing you to himself, I mean, you’re reading the gospels, was anybody in particular influential in that process in your life, or was that just the Lord working in your heart with just you and him? Was there anybody who was speaking into that process at all?

No, it was mainly just the Lord. It’s my individual reading and thinking. Although there were some Christians, a little bit older, than me in high school who… I mean everybody called themself a Christian. But I mean, there were some who really seemed to be what I would now call a Christian. There were some of those whose lives did just stick out. And I didn’t know them well, but I could just see by watching them as they would encounter trials, as they would encounter health challenges, awkward people, I could just see the difference in the way they would respond to them, and something rang true in me about their lives and them. Something seemed to be deeply right, very different than the way I was experiencing and doing life.

So who would you say have been some of… Sorry, this is not an absolute question. Some of the most influential people in your life spiritually?

Well top of the list would have to be my wife. I’ve been married 30 years now, and…Praise God…. Connie, I met her when she was already a strong Christian girl. We were undergrads together, we were in the same Christian fellowship. And one of the things-

And you’d been a Christian how long at that point?

A few years. I was sort of new as a Christian, and hadn’t had a lot of good teaching. But I could immediately tell, not only did I like the way she was as a person. She was sparkling, get things done, I found her attractive. But she also really had a clear concern for the Lord and what pleased the Lord. And the phrase I would use with friends in high school and college is, “I was looking for somebody who loved Jesus as much or more than I did, and would whoop me upside the head if I ever started to turn away from him.” And the Lord has answered that prayer abundantly in my dear wife.

You found her.

Oh, she’s great like that.

That’s good.

The Importance of Community

So she would definitely be sort of number one. But there have been a lot of brothers the Lord has used there. I think those early days in college, really good. Zane Pratt was my Sunday school teacher. He was a senior when I was a freshman. Zane now teaches at Southern Seminary in Louisville. Just other peers. When I was talking with one brother here about Larry Trotter, who was my roommate for a year in college. Larry was just a wonderful Christian brother thinking through things theologically. By God’s grace, there were a lot of those in college.

And then, seminary… There was also a pastor in college who was really helpful. Friday afternoons we’d go take a walk together and talk about everything under the sun. So I’m really thankful for him. Actually, there’s a pastor like that in the town I grew up in as well, but when I came to Christ… He wasn’t pastor of my church. He was the pastor of a Methodist church in town, but a strong evangelical Christian, and he was a good friend. We prayed a lot together.

Were you ever headed down a Methodist path?

Well, they thought, because I went to Duke is an undergrad. So there I’m going to the Methodist church all the time, going to Duke, and I’m taking classes at Duke Divinity School. So my Methodist friends back in Madisonville we’re getting all excited.

Right. But they were disappointed.

One of my first sermons was preached at First Methodist there in Madisonville. Yeah. 1977.

It’s not worked out the way they thought.

Well, not exactly…

[inaudible 00:03:26] Methodist now.

… but I love Methodist. I love John Wesley. Yeah.

Make Disciples in Missions Using Your Influence

That’s good. That’s good. And I asked that. All right. The men who’ve had an influence, or people who’ve had an influence in your life, the fruit of your life is all over people both there in Washington, DC now, but people who have left Washington, DC, Capitol Hill, and are serving in so many different capacities. Give us a glimpse. What does disciple-making look like in Mark Dever’s life? So not the absolute, “This is how disciple-making look must look in everybody’s lives.” But with the unique gifts that God’s entrusted to you, how do you think through? How can Mark Dever most effectively make disciples?

Pray for people regularly. Not try to own relationships, like “These people are mine,” but try to serve them and rejoice in their building other relationships.

So the last thing I want, when somebody gets to know me better, is for them to be kind of sucked into me or my orbit. I don’t think that’s healthy. I want to be a blessing to them, but I’m very much almost always trying to help build them into other people at the same time. Because it’s more like I’m trying to take them to a different way of relating to people.

Frankly, with more humility. More actively trying to learn from others, rather than just walking on their own, having their own private time with the Lord. Which is great. that’s foundational. You want to have that. But God has riches in the local church and in other Christian relationships that I think we could gain a lot from, and we ignore a lot of times. Practically, day-to-day, it means praying for people in my quiet time. So members of my church. My most important book is my Bible. My second most important book is my membership directory.

You [inaudible 00:05:12] have pictures of everybody?

Using Prayer to Make Disciples in Missions

Yeah. Yeah. They’re right here. So this morning, it’s the 25th. I prayed through page 25, prayed through each person on the page and what I knew was going on in their lives, insofar as I did know. So praying, and then it’s just in my daily life, trying to incorporate people as I can. So if I’m going to go to the store… So last night I went to the store with my wife, but if I’m going to go to the store for her, I probably won’t go alone. So she wanted me to go get something about 5:30 yesterday, so I grabbed John Joseph, said, “John, let’s take a walk. You mind going with me?” So we had 30 minutes to talk, walking to get something, walking back. So just going about my daily normal life, but at appropriate points, trying to fold people into it.

So it was a big decision for me in coming down here today, not to bring somebody with me. I thought about it, but I thought, “The whole time I’m going to be in meetings with David and others, I think there’s not a point in it.” But if it’s a two or three day meeting, I’ll almost always make sure somebody’s with me, debrief with them at the end of the day, pray together. Yeah.

Sharing life.

Yeah. But David, you did ask about my life, and I just want to be clear and say I’m an off-the-charts extrovert. So I don’t look to people in my church to think that what I do is Christian maturity, and what they’re doing, as a sort of normally balanced person, is not Christian maturity. Now what I want them to do is to think about in their life, what are appropriate ways how they can do this. Yeah.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

Mark Dever (PhD, Cambridge University) is a pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., the president of 9Marks, and a Council member of The Gospel Coalition. He is the author of many books, including Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. He and his wife, Connie, have two children.


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