Making Disciples When Evangelism Is Not Your Gift
Jesus, Paul, and Peter all talk about it in the New Testament. Whether it is called making disciples, winning souls, or saving the lost. It may be described as working with God to bring people to him, or being ready to explain our hope. But no matter how you talk it, we are called to bring people to Jesus. As I travel around the country, and even the world, I often hear Christians give lip service to this idea but it is quickly followed by the reason they personally are not doing this ministry. And the main reason I hear is that evangelism is not their gift. I think this is a misconception based on a wrong impression of what making a disciple really means.
Of course there are those who are gifted evangelists. They have a remarkable ability to draw people to Jesus and to convince them to become a follower. But convincing someone to follow Jesus is not making a disciple. There is a whole process of discovering Jesus, learning who he really is, and understanding his invitation to life that has to happen before anyone can become a disciple.
So let me suggest some ways that all of us – including preachers and church leaders – should be making disciples.
- Live as a disciple. Peter goes so far as to say this is a primary way for Christian wives to convert their non-believing husbands. Our lives are a living witness to the fact that following Jesus changes everything. Not because we are perfect, but because we are forgiven.
- Serve in the name of Jesus. Always be sure that God gets the glory and Jesus gets the credit when you serve people. Pray at meals when you are hosting non-believers. Bring food with a card that references Jesus. Service opens doors to share Jesus because it is a living testimony to how the Jesus life looks.
- Share your Jesus story every chance you get. Tell of what he has done for you. Seek opportunities to explain the difference he makes in your life.
- Tell Jesus stories from the Bible. Telling stories is natural and non-threatening. Talk about the Good Samaritan, or the blind man in John 9, or Legion in Mark 5. Or the Ethiopian, or the jailer in Philippi. Discussions with friends about racism, or sickness and death, or depression and countless other issues give you opportunity to tell these stories.
And if you get to the point where you feel like you need help in the next steps of their journey, then use a brother or sister with the gift or talent of evangelism.
As I tell the people where I worship, you introduce me and be the connection that gives me credibility. Set up the meal or the coffee time and I will help out with the next steps. We all have our parts to play: preparing hearts to hear, planting a Jesus seed, or watering seed someone else has planted.
While we wait for God to give the harvest.
Go make disciples.