After so many pastors and churches struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic, Richard Blackaby stresses that making disciples is more important than ever.
“Pastor, the fact that you preach on Sundays does not mean you’re making disciples,” said Blackaby, president of Blackaby Ministries International. “Preaching is important. That’s not making disciples.”
Blackaby delivered the message during Shelby Baptist Association’s annual meeting Oct. 16.
Over the last couple of years, Blackaby said, with all of the heated discussions taking place both online and off, “I just got to the point that I really just needed to seek the face of God. I was tired of listening to the news, quite frankly.”
“I’m not telling you that you should not be informed,” he added. “I’m just telling you that there’s Someone who knows a lot more than any news station does, and I needed to spend time in His presence so I sought His face.”
The meeting, which was hosted at North Shelby Baptist Church in Birmingham, also featured various entities across the state, nation and world (in person and via video). Participants were able to learn about ministries, entities and educational opportunities throughout the association, state and beyond.
Blackaby focused on the theme verse — Psalm 27:8 — about seeking God’s face.
“Christianity is about a whole lot more than a set of beliefs,” said Blackaby, noting it’s about more than church attendance or a worldview. “Christianity in its essence is a relationship with a Person.”
Blackaby, who was raised Southern Baptist, noted that we all need to be making disciples.
“Who are you discipling right now?” he asked. “The Christian life is an active life. The Christian life is a going life.”
Referring to the New Testament disciples, Blackaby noted they “made disciples one by one, and they turned the world upside down.”
“We need to get back to the simple command of Christ that every person is expected to be making one disciple,” he said.
“I can tell you Christians that go to four Bible studies every week but they’re not making any disciples, they love to study about Jesus. They’re just not all that big about following Jesus,” he said.
What is referred to as the Great Commandment — Matthew 28:19-20 — should also inspire believers to dig into His word to learn all that He commands to share with those they are discipling.
“You have not made a fully functioning disciple until they are making a fully functioning disciple,” he noted.
He encouraged everyone to have a valid passport and to be ready to respond if and when God calls them to go to the nations.
“We’ve taught people to be spectators at church,” Blackaby said. “They came in and sat in the back row, and they were spectators watching church take place. They weren’t growing. They weren’t following Jesus.
“We saw them observing and thought they were OK.”
Then, some started watching the livestream during COVID and realized they could watch from a more comfortable seat in their pajamas at home.
“We’ll never change the world by entertaining people and trying to somehow seduce them into our building,” Blackaby said. “We’ll turn the world upside down when we start having rooms filled with disciples.”
On a more personal note, Blackaby’s mother, Marilynn, died Sept. 29 after a short battle with liver cancer.
He mentioned all five of her children are serving in full-time ministry as are most of the adult-age grandchildren.
He asked for prayer for his father, Henry, who has not been alone since they were married 62 years ago.
Henry Blackaby released his “Experiencing God” Bible study series in 1990, and Richard played a part in the recent re-release of the study along with other materials including videos to pair with the popular Bible study.