It’s Easier to Ask People to Come to Church (March 2013)

By Matt Dabbs

By Keith Brenton

… than to ask them to become a disciple.

First of all, you have to be a disciple before you can help someone else become one. You have to know what being a disciple is. You have to live it.

Anyone can go to church.

Anyone.

But to ask someone to become a disciple, you know they have to see Jesus in your life, plain as day; hear Him simple and clear. Otherwise, you have no credibility with them.

It’s not that easy.

Let’s be honest.

Jesus didn’t make it easy. He said all kinds of things that make it hard. “Be perfect.” “Pray for your enemies.” “Do not judge others.” “Let them strike your other cheek also.” Many other things; you can name them as easily as I can.

Oh, and of course, the clincher:

“If anyone wants to follow Me, let them take up their cross and follow me.” –Matthew 16:24Mark 8:34

Cross. My cross. Take it up. Then follow Him. It’s in order, isn’t it? You can’t follow Him until you’ve taken up your cross.

“Cross” means surrender. “Cross” means suffering. “Cross” means humiliation. “Cross” means nakedness in front of others. “Cross” means sacrifice. “Cross” means enemy of the state. “Cross” means dying to self. “Cross” means slow death.

And Luke even adds the word “daily.” (Luke 9:23)

Not something you just do once a year as part of an Easter pageant reenactment until your belly is too big or your beard too grey to play Jesus anymore. You’re not playing Jesus. You’re living Jesus, daily. You’re dying to self, daily.

How can we ask people to live that way and give up that much?

I believe that sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way. It’s the only way scripture describes. People have to know Whom they are being asked to imitate, and Who He is, and what He gave up in order to become like us and live among us and die like us so that we can someday live again like Him.

Seriously: How often do we tell the gospel story in our churches?

What is the point of asking people to come to them if they don’t hear it?

If they don’t hear the gospel in our songs and our singing; taste the gospel at the table that is spread; see the gospel in the testimony of those living it out; listen to the gospel proclaimed by at least one and hopefully two or three witnesses to make its credibility certain … why bother to ask them there?

I staged the question that forms the theme of this edition, and I was deliberately disingenuous in phrasing it as an either/or. I know the question is being asked and the debate has been raging and the numbers are charted and the comparisons are made.

Plain fact is, we make disciples so that they are added to the church by the Lord. And it doesn’t matter diddly-squat whether we make them in the church or make them outside the church and then bring them in.

With some folks, you will have success showing them the gospel in everyday life and connecting it with Jesus the Son of God by telling them why you are living it — and they will be happy to experience more of it in the gathering of the saints.

With others, God will bless you with new brothers and sisters in Christ because they came to your church and saw the gospel there first and then followed you out of the church and kept seeing it in the lives of you and your fellow believers.

I think it’s great for successful churches to share their success stories with the world. I really do. As long as we all understand that discipling is not about quantity, but quality. (Jesus discipled three very closely — twelve closely — and that led to 120 by Acts 1.) And we need to understand that what works for church A is not necessarily going to work for church B; what works for person X may not work for person Y.<br><br>We know what really works. It’s right there in the New Testament. Sometimes it worked on a scale of three thousand, like in Jerusalem on Pentecost. Sometimes a dozen, more or less — the households of merchants, jailers and soldiers. Sometimes just one, as in an Ethiopian on his journey home. And let’s be even more honest: it also got some people arrested and tried and sometimes stoned to death.

Could we possibly get over ourselves and our expertise and our comparative ratios of successful methodologies and our programs and ministries and outreaches and church facilities and church plants and worship styles and learning opportunities … and just share the simple gospel of Jesus Christ every Sunday and every day … in what we do and in what we say … take up the cross, live as we pray … in any way and every way?

categoria commentoNo Comments dataDecember 3rd, 2013
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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1577 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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