Recently I listened to a sermon given by Dallas Willard on spiritual disciplines and discipleship. http://youtu.be/uBh8Kz9uqG8 in his sermon he mentioned that the church does not have a good theology of discipleship which is essentially effecting how we present the gospel.
As I take into consideration Dallas Willard’s words, Paul’s blog and the great commission ” And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:18-20
I can’t help but think that the reason our evangelistic efforts sometimes fail; stopping short of relationship, is because we no longer no what it means to create disciples. Sharing the gospel; the good news of Christ and the salvation and life that his death and resurrection bring is but one part of our mission. But to be a disciple and to create disciples requires more that a conversation or a track, or a drive by turn and burn message. Creating disciples and becoming disciples ourselves requires that we do life with people. Not to win them for Christ as if their some pawn to moved in the game of life. But to ensure that they become a lifetime follower, not merely for themselves but the kingdom of God.
Our belief in discipleship effects how we communicate the gospel. When Jesus called the disciples he said come follow me. Essentially what Jesus was saying here, was live life with me, and I will make you fishers of men. He did not say turn or your will go to hell. He allowed us to make a choice. He allowed us to live life with him before we had all of our ducks in a row. He wasn’t just focused on the when, but the how as well. Jesus cared about methodology. He knew that way in which he approached people mattered. These are things that we often forget about when discipleship is not in our evangelical framework.
Evangelism can not be used as a scare tactic, but it must ultimately have relationship as its end goal. Relationships that lead to life long disciples. It is only through being a disciple of Christ that we realize the beauty of the Gospel message. It was only after following Christ that Peter was able to say “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:16
As Paul said we must be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading in our relationships, so that through relationships the fullest picture of the Gospel message can be shared. This message will lead to life long disciples creating other life long disciples. Not of themselves, but of Christ.