(Continuing from yesterday) Does soul-winning equal “making disciples”? Look again at Jesus’ Commission in Matthew: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…. A non-believer is confronted/acquainted with the Gospel as Dr. Shrum eloquently wrote. Through grace, faith, and forgiveness the unbeliever becomes a believer. What’s next? Baptism. What’s after that? Learning the Word of God. In short, making a disciple is a process, not an event.
The event is the moment of belief and salvation. But that new believer is what the New Testament writers call a babe or infant in regard to faith (Hebrews 5:13, I Peter 2:2; see also I Corinthians 3:2, Hebrews 5:12). What it took to bring that non-believer to faith, in most cases, is also a process. Ministry actions, building relationships, and earning a right to be heard are all part of what Dr. Shrum noted as pre-evangelism. There are times when a soul seems to be won on the spot, but most often soul-winning is also a process. And what difference does any of this make?
Church leaders are communicators. Words convey ideas. I haven’t said anything really new and my comments so far wouldn’t raise the eyebrow of most any conservative pastor I know. Some or most of them could say it better than I have. But by not making distinctions in our communications, we miscommunicate. An illustration is helpful.
Pastor Joe understands soul-winning is important, it begins the process of making disciples, and he rightly wants his congregation to be obedient to the Scriptures. He repeatedly tells them the importance of the Great Commission and evangelism (he’s referencing soul-winning, the beginning of the disciple making process), he offers evangelism training (which is really training for soul winning), and almost tells them if they aren’t into evangelism (soul winning) they need to check the validity of their own faith.
I give Pastor Joe the benefit of the doubt because I know he means well. Many of the people in the pew become frustrated and defeated because the scenario has piled guilt on them and they view themselves as second class Christians. Pastor Joe wanted to encourage but he has discouraged. The members wanted to do good, but miscommunication frustrates them and their pastor! Should every Christian be equipped for soul winning? Yes. Is everyone going to be equally eager and productive in that endeavor? No. If evangelism clearly meant making disciples, would it make a difference? The answer is…
In the words of a old country western song, I’ve got a tiger by the tail it’s plain to see… 🙂 Will do my best to wrap this up Monday! Comments?
Soli Deo Gloria!