Vision | MISSION | Values #8: what is a disciple?

For the past two weeks, we’ve been looking at the vision of the New City Fellowship. A “vision” isn’t a current reality, but a picture of the future that we head towards today.

This week, we’ll look at our MISSION, which is the daily work we undertake to head towards the vision.


We exist to make disciples of all people in the reconciling Good News of Jesus Christ through Gospel proclamation (salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone) and Kingdom demonstration (Spirit-led deeds of love, justice and mercy).

The key phrase is “make disciples”. What is a disciple?

Some say that disciples are the Christians who are focused and keeping it 100.

Others think of discipleship as a program or curriculum.

I find Carl Ellis Jr.’s simple definition to be helpful, because it comes right out of Jesus’ command to make disciples.

“A disciple is someone who is in the process of learning to obey all things Christ commands.”

Following Jesus is a decision that becomes a process. It requires knowledge, but that knowledge can't stay in the head. It has to affect the heart and will. At New City, our mission is to help more and more people engage the process of following Jesus.

Before you think about making disciples, evaluate yourself by that definition. One who makes disciples but isn’t in the process of being made as a disciple isn’t really making disciples.


Where are you in the process? What are you learning to obey? As you think about Jesus’ commands, are you picking and choosing, or being shaped by ALL that Christ commands?

It is easy to let some of Christ’s commands slip in importance, to the point where we stop obeying certain commands and become complacent.

What are you letting slip right now?

Lust?     Greed?     Pursuing justice and mercy?    Humility?    Praying for your enemies?

WAIT!” you might say. “You're asking a lot here. I’m not perfect. There are only so many hours in the day and I’m only human. Are you perfect, Pastor?! What about grace and forgiveness? Aren’t we supposed to be focusing on what Jesus has done for us rather than what we do for him? A push towards obeying ALL that Christ commands will just end up in legalism.”

Well, I’m not perfect. I’m far from it. And yes! Grace covers all our sin. And of course, we are to be centered on Jesus’ death for us and finding our identity in Him.

But here’s what I want you to see. In our imperfection, we tend to lower the importance of some commands that we dislike or find difficult to follow. So, by the Spirit’s power, we must push ourselves towards ALL that Christ commands.

And God’s grace covers all our sin. But we tend to get comfortable in our sin rather than comforted by the Spirit as we repent of our sin. Grace doesn’t turn Christ’s COMMANDS into optional suggestions.

And the command to obey all of Jesus’ commands isn’t coming from me or anyone else, but the crucified, risen Lord Jesus himself who died for your sin and was raised to give you new life. It is CHRIST, the Messiah, who is commanding. If Jesus isn’t Christ-centered enough for you, then you’ll have to take that up with him.

But here’s the amazing thing. There aren’t two categories of people. There isn’t a different set of rules that apply to “Christians” and a separate set to “disciples”.

The fullness of God’s grace and mercy is for disciples of Christ Jesus. As we seek to obey all that he commands, we stand in grace, are empowered by the Spirit, and are compelled by the love of Christ.

Recalibrate your thinking. Reorient your trajectory. Redefine yourself as a radically loved disciple of Jesus who is in the process of learning to obey all things commanded by your Lord, who sacrificed himself for you.

Before we make disciples, we must see ourselves as disciples. And realizing our own need for grace will make us much safer, realistic, kind people as we help others follow all that Christ commands.

-Pastor John