of the Gospel
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Romans 1:16 (ESV)
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As Christians, the most important action we can take is to obey the "Great Commission." Most people think of the Great Commission as spreading the gospel by bringing Christ to people and hence to bring people to Christ. Most Christians are familiar with the Matthew version.
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)
But guess what? The Great Commission says to "make disciples." All Christians are called to be disciples and to make disciples.
Some believe that that being a Christian and being a disciple are two different things. There is “ordinary” Christianity for the typical Christian, and then there is a higher, more challenging version known as being a disciple. John MacArthur puts it this way: “In the past hundred years or so, it has become popular to speak of discipleship as a higher level of Christian experience. In the new terminology, a person becomes a believer at salvation; he becomes a disciple later, when he moves past faith to obedience. Such a view conveniently relegates the difficult demands of Jesus to a post-salvation experience.” I do not believe that Christians are divided into the varsity (disciples) and junior varsity (“ordinary Christians”). I believe that all Christians are on the same team and we are all called to begin a journey of discipleship once we are saved. MacArthur concurs: “Every believer is a disciple and vice versa. A careful reading of Acts shows that the word disciple has been a synonym for Christian from the earliest days of the church (cf. 6:1-2, 7; 11:26; 14:20, 22; 15:10).”
So how do we define disciple?
Merriam-Webster: one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another. Not a bad definition if we substitute "Jesus Christ" for "another."
Billy Graham liked to keep things simple: A disciple is simply someone who believes in Jesus and seeks to follow Him in his or her daily life.
Our own Pastor Bob elaborates: A disciple is a lifelong, loving, devoted, disciplined Christian who is a follower, learner and servant of Jesus Christ, bearing fruit that remains.
I put together the following definition for Pastor Bob’s class: a disciple is one who sincerely loves, trusts and follows Jesus Christ by learning his ways, applying those ways to one’s own life, and assisting others to do the same.
If Jesus calls us to "make disciples of all nations," why are doing so poorly right here in the USA? We are still a "Christian nation," but the portion of the population identifying as Christian is declining and among self-identified Christians, many rarely attend church. How can this be? The shocking answer: among Christians identifying as evangelical, over 90% have never presented the gospel to anyone in their entire lives!
We can hardly bring people to Christ if we never make an effort to. There are many excuses, and we each have our own personal favorites. The one I am most familiar with, and I have used it myself, is that I am not comfortable, in large part because I am not prepared. Well, the Boy Scout motto is "Be Prepared," and we are here to help you become prepared.
There are many good resources outlining the various steps to good evangelism. I am going to condense them down to a very short list. When we evangelize, we may have situations where these steps drag out over a period of years. Or they may all take place in a single encounter. We may be involved in only one or two steps while others handle the rest. The key is that it is best to be prepared to handle all the steps. Note that many define evangelism to only include actually presenting the gospel message. I believe in a broader definition. Here are the steps.
Let it be known that you are a Christian. Far too many Christians hide their light under a bushel. Do not be embarrassed to let your faith be known!
Be able to introduce "spirituality" into a conversation, or to recognize when someone else introduces the subject.
Be able to present your own personal testimony. This may include the gospel message. But the primary objective is to provide a reason why accepting Christ is beneficial. There is no better way to do this than to tell your own story. If possible, your story should include three essentials: life before, conversion and life after. "Life after" should reflect a changed life.
Be able to present the essentials of the gospel message.
If appropriate, ask for a decision.
Fear not! There are plenty of resources and tools that can help you. Perhaps the most challenging is putting together your own personal testimony, but there are guides and aids for that, as well.
The following links are to all the discipleship resources on this website. Many of these link to addition resources at other websites. Indentation indicates that that the page is also accessible via a link from the parent page.