Are You Discipling Your Online Followers?

By Allen White

With just a couple of sentences, Jesus passed the baton to His disciples. Ready or not, Jesus’ mission on earth now belonged to them and us. Before you start feeling guilty about not witnessing to your neighbor or coworker, let’s look at two promises that Jesus gave with the Great Commission.

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20

 

First, Jesus says, “All authority (or power) in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” We know from theology that God is omnipotent or all-powerful. The disciples aren’t to run their mission by their wits, but with Jesus’ authority. They (and we) really have nothing to fear. Authority over everything and everyone belongs to the One who sends us.

Next, Jesus says, “And surely I am with you always.” Jesus didn’t just send His disciples, He promised to be them. In the going and disciple-making and baptizing and teaching, Jesus was (and is) with His disciples.

The mission is to make disciples. What is disciple? A disciple is simply a follower. If you are on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace (is anyone on there anymore?), LinkedIn or any other social network, you have followers. Essentially, you have disciples. You have influence.

My only complaint with social media is that I encounter every person I’ve ever known on a daily basis: childhood friends in Kansas, college friends from Missouri, church friends from California, ministry colleagues from across the US, and friends in South Carolina. In the words of George Costanza, “Worlds are colliding.”

So, here’s the question: where are you leading your followers?

In 1994, I signed up for CompuServe. I was known as 43925.32924@compuserve.net back then. I spent a good deal of time in a Christian forum (chat room) because it was Christian and had a low flat rate. I met a number of people online who became friends, including a guy named Greg, who wasn’t a Christian, but did enjoy the low flat rate.

Greg was sort of like a teetotaler who wondered into a bar and didn’t know what to drink. We had some great conversations about life and faith and ridiculous things. One day, Greg posted a message, “Jesus died for my sins.” Most of us wondered what the punch line was going to be. But, there in community with believers, Greg crossed the line of faith.

Not too long after that our group of virtual friends came together face to face. I had the privilege of baptizing Greg in his Jacuzzi. (It was California, after all).

Rather than chatting up old flames and deceiving ourselves into thinking that relationship would somehow be more fulfilling than the relationship that we’re in, why not pray about how your followers might one day become Jesus’ followers too? I’m not encouraging you to be obnoxious. The world has enough annoying Christians. But, with Jesus’ power and presence, your influence is significant. How can you help your followers become Jesus’ followers too?

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