Here’s an excerpt from The Trellis and the Vine. Mark Dever called it the best book he’s “ever read on the nature of church ministry.” It has been for me, too (Dever has read a lot more books than I have, so his endorsement carries a little more weight). Enjoy.
At the most basic level, the Bible says that Jesus doesn’t have two classes of disciple: those who abandon their lives to his service and those who don’t. The call to discipleship is the same for all. Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:34-35). There are not two sorts of disciples– the inner core who really serve Jesus and his gospel, and the rest. To be a disciple is to be a slave of Christ and to confess his name openly before other” “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matt 10:32-33).
The call to discipleship is thus a call to confess our allegiance to Jesus in the face of a hostile world; to serve him and his mission, whatever the cost. Don’t bother attending your dad’s funeral, Jesus says to a passing enquiry: “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:60).
The Great Commission, in other words, is not just for the Eleven. It’s the basic agenda for all disciples. To be a disciple is the be a disciple-maker.