Friday, 8 February 2008

Disciple making - not just evangelism

I've been wrestling again today with the difference between 'just' telling someone the gospel and, gospelling with a view to disciple making. I am working on lectures for "Evangelism" in first semester. That led me to spend two hours this morning hanging out with Harry Burgess who's been disciple making and evangelising for years in churches at Campbelltown and Riverwood.

You always plot a route to take you where you want to end up, and if that end product's a disciple, that has to change things. I reckon a disciple has done more than 'turned to Christ' - they have set out on a journey. A disciple is a learner and follower (emphasis on the continuing present?) As Harry puts it, our gospelling doesn't just mention escape from judgment, but the life we live from here to then.

Of course if God's committing to a journey with them, so should we. Harry's take on that: the Great Commission goes along with the Great Commandment. I like that.


John McClean said...

What do you think will be the big changes to how we do evangelism if we focus on disciple-making?


Pete Moore said...

Good question John – a million dollar question! Probably it will involve at least two things.
First it will involve what we tell people. Naturally our evangelism makes much of the cross. Often our focus is on the death of Jesus for our sins so sinners can escape judgment. The point seems to be to produce a new verdict (‘not guilty’ now) rather than anything much else. People are reassured. Their guilt is dealt with and they feel able to go on living the same godless lives they lived before! The benefits of faith seem to come at the judgment – the message could probably be called ‘Two Ways to Die’!
But it’s better to explain sin and cross more relationally I reckon. Sin is hostility, and the cross deals with guilt in order to provide the whole of a new life restored to God as friends. What follows is a life of growing with God, rather than ignoring him! This time the difference starts straight away – a message that can be truly called ‘Two ways to Live!’
That leads to the Second thing which is how we explain all that. The message should fit the messenger. We’ll get to know people and offer them what God does – a new life as friends. That is going to be costly but it will also (hopefully!) allow them to see what discipleship is all about.
Another way of putting all this: evangelism will be all about making friends, not just offering information. Church also will reflect that.
But perhaps I am just repeating myself. What do you think brother?