There are whole books, shelves of curriculum, and thousands of teachers that could fill this space concerning evangelism and discipleship. And believe me, I'm not arrogant enough to think I'm going to solve all the debate right here in 500 words or less.
There are so many ways to share the good news of the gospel with people.
Life on Life.
One on One.
In a small Group.
In a stadium.
History has proved the Spirit moves in all kinds of directions, and in His own time. So, far be it from me to sit here and write the end all be all method of sharing one's faith. But one thing is sure…Jesus was pretty harsh on religious leaders that were shackling new followers with a system of beliefs that were unmanageable.
Matthew 23 says this, "Woe to you, teachers
of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea
to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as
much a son of hell as you are." (Matthew 23:15)
This passage is very strange, and deserves much discussion.
Whether you know it or not, There is a cultural frustration with the "street evangelism" I grew up with. It seems like all the rules have changed. Nothing is like it was 15 years ago. People either don't want to hear it anymore, OR; they have their own system that suffices the hardest questions in life. It's like the whole world changed overnight. But, it might not be such a bad thing.
You see, when I was new to the faith, I had a teacher put a Bible in my lap, and he said, "If you want to be a good Christian, read your Bible everyday." Which is AWESOME!! But I had no idea what the Bible was all about. I didn't know how to read it, and became increasingly frustrated with the language of a culture 2000 years away from mine. I found myself applying verses to my own personal situation, when in fact later I learned in Seminary; was TOTALLY WRONG.
But in order to be a 'Good Christian' I obeyed my teacher, and started a regimented devotional time, everyday.
(don't read too much into that. I think reading the Bible everyday is the fuel for my soul. It's just that my motive was wrong.)
Then I had a youth pastor say, "If you want to be a good Christian you have to go down to the streets and share your faith with unbelievers. After all, it's the Great Commission." So that's what I did. I started sharing my faith with everyone I ran into contact with. I shared with the gas attendant, the subway sandwich artist, and the car mechanic. I left tracks in bathrooms all over the country, and felt it was my responsibility to share the good news with every person I ran into. Again, there is nothing wrong with sharing your faith, but I look back and see my motive was all wrong.
I just wanted people to hear that Jesus died for their sins. I really didn't have a comprehensive view of what it means to follow Jesus after they accepted Him as their Savior. I had no point of reference for what it meant to put actions to faith, and when I look back I saw it as more of a rescue mission, rather than a full on life changing faith.
I felt like if I could only get people to confess their sins, confess Jesus as savior, and believe God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9) then I would be doing my mission. It was up to someone else to deal with them after that.
The problem is…not as many people are lining up for the lifetime discipleship job.
Don't get me wrong, sharing Jesus is essential to who we are. After all, He alone is the one who has defeated death, reconciled evil, and gives us ANY hope for the future. But we must be careful not to just leave people out in the cold. Just because you can mark down the number of people you shared Jesus with, doesn't mean you're doing the best job.
I think this is what Jesus is saying.
You travel all over the world to make a convert, but you're not helping them see the beauty of the gospel in life after they've decided to follow Jesus. You've not shown them the freedom, and abundant life God came to give. You've not helped them see the persecution that is on the horizon and how to handle it. You've not guided them to a place where they can have a habitat worthy to incubate their faith to maturity.
And it's this reason why I do what I do.
It's why I write books.
It's why I speak all over the world.
It's why I do the camp thing out at KIVU.
It's why we're developing programs for teenagers to understand what it means to share their faith, and also be Do-ers of the word. (James 1:22-25)
It's not simply enough to read your Bible and go on Street Mission trips. Those behaviors should be outpourings of a core change inside. (2 Cor. 5:17). Because when Jesus truly comes into the heart of man, EVERYTHING CHANGES!!
May we be people who don't just act our faith, but rather; do out of a core of change.
May we praise the God of the Universe for Saving us from death, sin, and life as it is in the now.
May we be a people who can hope in the reconciled Kingdom to come and as people begin understanding the faith, may they become co-laborers in the New Kingdom.
May God Bless you Today!