We learn about it, talk about it, think about it, and some act on it, but why are the vast majority of Christians today not taking an active role in reaching the lost, sharing the gospel, and making disciples? By that, I mean verbally telling others about Jesus Christ, guiding them into a relationship with the Lord, and teaching them God’s word.
After all, making disciples for Jesus Christ is the primary mission of every Christian and every church. It’s an area that should be a church’s greatest strength; however, it’s the most significant weakness in many cases. For the most part, that occurs when people settle into comfort zones and the church shifts to an inward instead of an outward focus.
It prompts the question: “What am I, or what are we, as a church, doing for heaven’s sake?”
For many Christians, the idea of discipleship only means sharing the gospel and leading someone to Christ, but discipleship goes much deeper than that and is much more involved. I believe the video shows that. However, the church teaches us how to share the gospel with people but not disciple them in many cases.
For example, years ago, I went through a program called FAITH. Our church sponsored it, and it taught people how to present the gospel in a logical sequence of steps– similar to Romans Roads, Evangecube, etc. One aspect of the course involves teaming up in groups of three to go out into the community and approach people or go door-to-door in a neighborhood to share the gospel.
On my first outing, we set up on the front of a K-mart, and many people went on their way, not paying much attention to our invitation, but one lady did stop. Our group leader shared the gospel with her using the FAITH tract, and she opened her heart to accept Jesus as her Savior and Lord there on the spot. Praise God, right? It’s terrific that she came to accept Christ, but there is a problem with that model of witnessing.
The problem with that model of witnessing is, more often than not, there is no form of follow-up, no element of discipleship. In that lady’s case years ago, it’s as if we said, “Congratulations! Here is your Bible, good luck, God bless, and we hope to see you in heaven.” That’s not discipleship. Discipleship involves building relationships.
I believe Satan has used this ongoing global pandemic to create another, different kind of devastating pandemic, an isolation pandemic. One that separates people from people and makes them apprehensive about approaching others. We need to break that stigma and begin to build relationships within the community once again. In short, we need to get back to the basics of what we are called to do, to make disciples.
How to build and foster relationships for discipleship.
1) Meet the needs of others. “Jesus said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28/NASB)
Jesus came to serve and give His life for us. In return, we, as His disciples, surrender our lives to be His hands and feet to continue his ministry in the world– to serve others. When a Christian or church becomes self-serving, God’s work in and through them will stagnate.
2) Take the time to know people. Jesus said, “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:17/NASB)
Jesus took the time to build a relationship with His disciples and taught them everything He learned from His Father. It would have been easier if Jesus said, “I’m God, you’re not, and just do what I say.” Sure, Jesus could have done that, but He wanted a relationship; he wanted friends, not slaves. Therefore, in like manner, we ought to be building relationships in the community and teaching others what God’s word has taught us.
3) Allow others to see God’s love in you. Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:13;14)
Salt was a widely used food preservative in the first century. If food went unpreserved, it perished quickly. Likewise, apart from Christ, we are corrupt and quick to perish. However, in Christ, we are to be a preserving element in a world that is perishing.
When I think about how we are to be the light of the world, a lighthouse comes to mind. If you have ever sailed on the open ocean at night, you know what darkness is, but you also discover how a tiny pinpoint of light from a lighthouse can be seen from miles away. Shipmasters use that light as a guide to avoid hazards and arrive home safely.
Jesus tells us that we are to be light for the world, the spiritually lost, and help them avoid the pitfalls of sin, so they reach their heavenly home safely.
4) Share your testimony. Jesus said, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, namely, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you are testifying as well because you have been with Me from the beginning.” (John 15:26-27)
The disciples were to testify about the miracles and glory of Jesus Christ that they witnessed first-hand during His three-year ministry because, as the Scripture says, “they were with Him from the beginning.” Likewise, as Jesus’s disciples, we are to testify to others about how God has worked both in and through our lives.
Many Christians often act like they have it all together, but we know that is so far from reality. When Christians act like they have it all together, that can make non-Christians feel that the bar is set too high for them to reach. Dr. David Jeremiah once said that allowing others to see the flaws and cracks in our lives will make them more comfortable to share theirs and soften their hearts towards the gospel.
On the subject of discipleship, Apostle Paul penned these eloquent words in Romans 10:14-15. He wrote:
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'”
So in closing, I would like to pose the following question upon which to ponder: How can we, as the body of Christ, penetrate and build relationships within our communities? How can we, moving forward, make a difference for heaven’s sake?
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
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