Most Christians get very scared of one particular word. It’s the E word. It comes with a lot of baggage and is easily misunderstood. Oh no, it means that I need to talk to people that i don’t know. Worse still, I might have to speak with friends or family; they’ll think I’m crazy.
The E word is Evangelism. Far to often evangelism is seen as a dirty word, something which only really keen people get involved with. Sadly this is the case. Misunderstanding surrounds it, leading people to neglect real disciple making. Yet this is one of the key tasks of the church of Jesus. Disciple making is an absolutely natural part of the believers life. Jesus himself says that he desires his followers to make disciples (Matt 28:18-20).
For many it is because we feel that we don’t have anything to offer to people. Others may have introvert personalities. Alongside this there is the inward fear that we all have of being rejected. This is where the good bit comes. God does not expect you to make disciples on your own. And this is something which has application to both the spiritual and the practical.
Lets start with the spiritual aspect of making disciples. No amount of programmes or clever gimmicks is ever going to bring new life into a heart which is spiritually dead. Trust me, I was the dead heart. God alone has the power to bring new life. We see Jesus speaking to Nicodemus about this (John 3:3-8). He helps us to understand that this is a supernatural work of God in which new spiritual life is brought into existence. In other words disciple making is not something we can do, rather it is something we are allowed by God to participate in. When we lose the perspective that God is the one who alone can bring new life then we can feel a very heavy weight on our shoulders. But when we remember that it is the sovereign Lord who brings people to know him by his power then we are liberated. It transforms evangelism from a task to a normal part of our own discipleship.
Secondly there is also the practical aspect. Disciple making is not reserved for the pastor or maybe somebody who is really, really keen. Neither is it something which is to be done in isolation. We do not find these two common errors in the New Testament. Indeed we see the opposite. Stephen is not “an apostle”, he serves tables. Yet he is the first who takes a stand for the truth of Christ and is killed for it (Acts 6:1-7:60). I’m not saying run outside and get stoned to death. But the principle is there. You don’t need to be “ordained” to be an effective disciple maker. Alongside this we see Jesus sending out people in groups of two (Mark 6:7). He never views this as an individual task. Rather he sees it as something which requires a team effort, working together in unity to share the good news of the kingdom of God.
Working together as gospel partners both practically and spiritually is liberating. Disciple making was never meant to be lonely and it is definitely not something which we can do by our own human effort. God will choose to use you and your life of discipleship to point others to Jesus. How he will choose to do this we won’t know till we rise to the task and share the privilege of disciple making together.