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Return to School, Return to Missions

The fall semester has begun. And let’s be honest: we’re creatures of habit. Where our spirit desires to practice spiritual disciplines and start healthy habits, it’s far too easy to spend the first couple weeks coasting, spending far too much time catching up with your friends (or if you’re grade-conscious like I was…far too much time organizing your calendar/schedule/syllabi, etc.) and not the time necessary with the Lord. If you desire to grow not only in your relationship with God this semester, but to also keep your heart stirred to the call of disciple-making among the nations, then let me propose a few things to consider.

Learning with the nations in mind starts by being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Following Jesus means being transformed by His Spirit to walk as He walked. This takes time with him. Time with the Lord = life. And just as certainly, time absent from his presence = death. You will notice the difference in your inner being from the days and weeks intentionally seeking him versus the days or weeks running on your own effort. Choose life…spend more time with Jesus. Open his Word and ask him to teach you and give you a “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5). Talk to him…ask him to help you pursue now the very kind of God-honoring disciple-making life that you want to have while laboring among the least reached one day.

Following Jesus means all your homework—your class time, projects, and papers—should be done as worship, as faithful service to your “Audience of One,” Jesus (Thank you, Os Guinness). You don’t go through school just for the grade or to get by and survive it all, but to honor the One who made you, saved you, transforms and sustains you, praying the whole time that he uses your education, your future college degree, to fuel service wherever he chooses.

Let’s add another one. Learning with the nations in mind, working out your discipleship of Christ means margins. It would seem a completely radical idea for most but yes, you—especially you college students—create margin in your life! If the answer to every “Hey, how are you doing?” is “Busy,” then it’s possible that your conscious awareness of God’s presence to sustain you is minimal and a biblical practice of six work days to every one rest day in the gift of Sabbath is absent. A consistent pattern of busyness is culturally praised but it’s not biblical. Running ragged without rest does not move you toward holiness, it actually makes you vulnerable of Satan’s schemes.

Find a mentor who will give you wise counsel and not just let you complain. Have this mentor ask you what God’s teaching you, what you’re reading in the Word, and ask them to pray and talk through obstacles that come as you seek to faithfully follow Jesus. Choose someone whose faith inspires you to grow and who won’t lean on their own advice and experience alone but point you to the holiness of God and grace found through his Holy Son, Christ. May this mentor constantly guide to you back to the truth of His Word.

So…a review. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ while in school means:

  • Time with the Lord
  • All my “doing” is done as worship
  • Practicing dependence on God through Sabbath, having margins
  • Finding a mentor

Secondly, as God transforms our heart to reflect his heart for the nations, and as he grows our understanding of the mandate to make disciples, then we not only live out “being” disciples but we live out “making” disciples.

Learning with the nations in mind means making disciples…right now.

The Enemy spreads the lie that you aren’t ready, aren’t spiritual enough, and can’t be making disciples now. Plus, who’s got time for that? Excuse me…if you are His and have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of the Beloved Son then God’s very own Holy Spirit indwells you. You are qualified to be his witness (Colossians 1:13, Acts 1:8).

Who has God put around you? Is it evident from their lives that they too are followers of Jesus? If “yes,” than like iron sharpens iron, you should sharpen each other as believers and pray that God opens opportunities to meet new acquaintances that do not know Christ. Encourage your believing friends to consider God’s heart for the nations and pray for them together.

If the answer is “no,” than ask yourself honestly: “Does it bother me that these people around me do not know Christ?” Ask the Lord to give you his heart for the lost. Watch and pray…for he will burden you with souls in a beautiful way so that you will take His hope, love, and truth to them. Seek more meaningful friendships…sharing what God is doing in your life and what He’s teaching you for you are his witness.

How good and gracious is our God?! He puts people lost in their sin within relationships with his children in order to bring the message of salvation to more and more of his image-bearers. Do you typically stay with a comfortable group of friends? Praise God for good friends! Now, are they believers that are sharpening each other or non-believers in whom you are sowing seeds of the gospel? If neither is the case, put this before the Lord as you practice “being” a disciple. Ask him to help you make disciples. Get in the Word with others…maybe to help others mature in their faith or maybe to introduce Jesus to someone who still has not understood their sin and need for a relationship with the Perfect Son.

Without being a disciple, your pursuit of making disciples will be fruitless.

Why? Your efforts will be done independently from the vine. We must abide.

And as we grow in our intimacy with the Father, our identity in Christ, and our dependence on his Spirit, we must ask God to open our mouths to boldly testify to how we see him at work in our life and around us that others might come to know him. In saving you, God has made you a priest. Part of your new creation as a child of God means your life, whether you realize it or not, whether it’s positive or negative, proclaims to the watching world who God is. As a priest, introduce people to the person and work of Christ. His truths, his peace, his hope are not for you alone but for you to share.

Stop right now and pray. Ask God to open your eyes to see your need for greater holiness in being his disciple and his calling on you to make disciples.

He is able. He has already done everything necessary for you to walk in holiness and to be his witness. Praise God for Christ!

If you want to talk more about learning with the nations in mind now—and what pursuing the nations could look like down the road—send us an email at go@encompassworld.org. We’ll have a mobilizer like myself connect with you and encourage your pursuit of God and the nations he loves.

Have a great semester!


Encompass World Partners’ Mobilization Team seeks to mobilize and equip people and churches who are following Jesus into the missional work he’s doing to make disciples of all nations. You can contact Encompass’ mobilization team at go@encompassworld.org.