The goal of discipleship is reproduction: The making of new disciples who will in turn make new disciples, etc.
1 A wise son brings joy to his father…
5 He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son…
8 The wise in heart accept commands…
11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life…
13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning…
16 The wages of the righteous is life…
20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver…
21 The lips of the righteous nourish many…
31 From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom…
From “The Master Plan of Evangelism” by Robert Coleman
There is no use to pray for the world. What good would it do? God already loves them and has given his Son to save them. No, there is no use to pray vaguely for the world. The world is lost and blind in sin. The only hope for the world is for men to go to them with the Gospel of salvation, and having won them to the Savior, not to leave them, but to work with them faithfully, patiently, painstakingly, until they become fruitful Christians savoring the world about them with the Redeemer’s love.
Here finally is where we must all evaluate the contribution that our life and witness is making to the supreme purpose of Him who is the Savior of the world. Are those who have followed us to Christ now leading others to him and teaching them to make disciples like ourselves? Note, it is not enough to rescue the perishing, though this is imperative; nor is it sufficient to build up newborn babies in the faith of Christ, although this too is necessary if the first fruit is to endure; in fact, it is not sufficient just to get them out winning souls, as commendable as this work may be. What really counts in the ultimate perpetuation of our work is the faithfulness with which our converts go out and make leaders out of their converts, not simply more followers. Surely we want to win our generation for Christ, and to do it now, but this is not enough. Our work is never finished until it has assured its continuation in the lives of those redeemed by the Evangel. (pages 109-110)
The test of any work of evangelism thus is not what is seen at the moment, or in the Conference Report, but in the effectiveness with which the work continues in the next generation. Similarly the criteria upon which a church should measure its success is not how many new names are added to the role nor how much the budget is increased, but rather how many Christians are actively winning souls and training them to win the multitudes. The ultimate extent of our witness is what matters, and for this reason values can only be measured by eternity.
This is the new evangelism we need. It is not better methods, but better men – men who know their Redeemer from something more than hearsay – men who see his vision and feel his passion for the world – men who are willing to be nothing in order that He might be everything – men who want only for Christ to produce His life in and through them according to His good pleasure. This finally is the way the Master planned for his objective to be realized on the earth, and where it is carried through by his strategy, the gates of hell cannot prevail against the evangelization of the world. (pages 113-114)
This book sounds like something we need today–yet, it was written in 1963. What happened? Did we not heed the warning? How come our entire church calendar is not structured around discipleship toward evangelism and more discipleship? How well do we know our Lord? How well do we WANT TO? Are we really on board with His plan? In case we think that Jesus was introducing something new, we have these illustrations from the Old Testament:
- The birth of Israel through Abraham and Sarah–Each son had children, who had children, who had children, etc. until Israel was a mighty nation, so great in number that the Egyptians were threatened by them (Exodus 1:6-12).
- Daniel’s dream of the rock that grew into a mountain that filled the whole world (Daniel 2:35).
- The water coming out from under the threshold of the temple in Ezekiel’s vision that grew to be a great river that turned the salt water of the Dead Sea into fresh water (Ezekiel 47:1-12).
From Jesus Himself, we have these parables:
- The mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32) that starts as the smallest of seeds, yet grows to become a tree.
- The yeast in the dough (Matthew 13:33) that works its way into sixty pounds of flour.
As we can see, God’s plan all along was for us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others. Here’s the plan:
- We learn- There are some great resources out there to help us learn a good strategy; the best one is the Bible!
- We pray- Our ongoing relationship with the Father through the Son in the Spirit is how we connect with Him; with us connected to Him, He can then use us to connect with others. He will lead us to each person to whom He wants us to share.
- We initiate- Whether it’s a text, a call, or a visit, we seek out that person.
- We share- Our story is our best evangelistic tool. They want to know what is so special about Jesus. Well, we know Him personally and enjoy His love, joy, peace, hope and grace! Now, THAT’S worth sharing!
- We strive- Rarely does a person respond to the Gospel the first time he hears it (the average is seven times before a decision is made). We simply continue to pray, initiate and share short examples of God’s amazing grace in our lives. God will bring the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6).
Jesus gave a parable about increasing our investments, The Bags of Gold in Matthew 25:14-30. Jesus expects obedience. When will we learn that salvation is not about us, but about His glory? Let’s make it all about Him, shall we?
Abba, You know that I am thankful for my salvation; I know that when my heart beats in sympathetic rhythm with Yours that I find myself consumed with spreading the Gospel. The question that runs through my mind constantly is, what is best going to spread the Gospel: Me going out or me training others? May You give me opportunities to train others even as I go out in Your name and Your power, under Your orders and Your protection. Let’s go, Abba! Amen.