A message from Archbishop Foley Beach.
Bill Murray. Danny Parker. Dan DeHaan. David Chamberlain. David Collins. What do all these men have in common? They discipled me.
Bill Murray used to meet with me once a week and teach me about how to study the Bible and pray. Danny Parker taught me how to love high school students in a manner in which they would know it. Dan DeHaan taught me how to seek God for Himself and not just for what He can give me. David Chamberlain mentored me in the Anglican faith, and David Collins taught me about the Church and the release of the Holy Spirit in ministry. These men are just a few of the many who have discipled and mentored me in how to follow Jesus Christ. They gave of their time, their resources, and their very lives to help me become a disciple of Jesus.
Jesus calls each of his followers to be about the business of disciple-making – helping others follow Jesus as He leads them in their lives. When a person is born-again, she or he is like a new baby in this world. A baby must be cared for, loved, fed, cleaned, disciplined, and nurtured until such a time she or he can walk on her or his own. The Kingdom of God is similar. We need to be taught to walk the talk: How do you worship? How do you pray? How do you read and study the Bible? How do you hear the Lord? How do you love your neighbor? What do the Scriptures say about Jesus? About serving? About what is right and what is wrong? This is what discipleship does – it cooperates with the Holy Spirit to help us to follow Jesus in our life-situation.
Many have tried to turn discipleship into a class or course that we attend. As good as those courses might be, discipleship is also caught, not just taught. It is a lifestyle modeled and shared in the living of life together. I am so grateful for the many individuals who have walked with me over the years, sharing their lives, their families, their wisdom, and their knowledge of God.
As Anglicans, we have an incredible wealth of resources to aid us in our discipleship. We have the Catechism; we have the Book of Common Prayer; we have numerous Anglican scholars and Bible teachers spanning the past five centuries whose work opens the pages of Scriptures, and we have many godly women and men of the Church Catholic from the days of the Patriarchs. In today’s age of technology, we can access sermons and teachings from people all over the world and throughout the history of the Church. Our only excuse now for not living into discipleship and being a disciple-maker is that we just don’t want to. Ouch. But this is truer than most of us realize.
This week, I listened to a brother in Christ share about his ministry with prisoners. He works with serious and violent offenders. He made an astonishing statement: About 95% of these men have sat in churches in their younger years and have prayed the sinner’s prayer. What happened? Why didn’t it take? Could it be that they were never discipled? Could it be no one ever invested in their walk with the Lord, and they never became a disciple? They had made a decision for Christ, but they never became a disciple of Christ.
As a province, let’s be about making disciples. It is the best way to reach North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. After all, this is what the Great Commission is all about. “Therefore, go and make disciples….” (Mt.28:19).
The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America