Natural Evangelism and Discipleship
Natural Evangelism and Discipleship for Christian Ministry
We live in a culture of postmodern ideology which has set up relativism as its highest value. Thirty years ago, most Americans had some kind of religious background, or at least a Judeo-Christian ethic as a foundation. In reaching out with the gospel, the acceptance of absolute truth was common ground upon which a presentation of the gospel would be considered. Those days are gone.
In seeking to break the missional code in our own communities, we are discovering that we must start with people who believe all truth is relative. The primary expression of relativism is existentialism which means that a person’s personal experience is their highest authority. We can ignore this or we can embrace it. Thus we see the need for a new approach to evangelism and discipleship.
The gospel needs to be presented in the context of a trusted relationship. People come to Christ over a longer period of time, needing multiple meetings as opposed to a quick fifteen minute presentation and close the deal. We need to start at the beginning of what it means to be created in God’s image rather than the fact that all have sinned and are separated from God.
The problem with the concept of relationship evangelism is that it often becomes an excuse for no evangelism. In any relationship, there comes a time when we must take initiative to engage people with an invitation to discuss spiritual things.
If a person’s personal experience is their highest authority, then we can honor that by entering into a discussion that is based on drawing out their story, their life experiences and their values. As we are doing that, we can also share our story and of course the main goal is to share God’s story as it is revealed in Scripture. So, what about an approach to evangelism and discipleship that will include your story, my story and God’s story in a conversational, natural way?
The Most Effective Evangelism and Discipleship
Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Community Church said, “The most effective method of evangelism is a personal conversation with a trusted friend.” It says in Proverbs 20:5 The plans in the heart of a man are like deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out. This can only happen by asking good questions to draw out what is in their heart.
The Apostle John understood the limitations of certain kinds of communication. He told his readers in 2 John 12 “Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, so you’re your joy may be made full.” John understood that the best kind of communication is face to face. People need “face time.”
Many evangelism and discipleship plans are primarily an approach that is a presentation rather than a conversation. With the fresh needs of a new generation in mind, Natural Evangelism and Discipleship has been developed. This approach is relationally driven, respectful of each person’s value and worth as an individual, and yet it is intentional, sequential, and practical. You will be exposed to a series of Bible discussions that are filled with relational, open ended questions, and yet focused on God’s word as the reference.
Jesus gave us one clear commission before He ascended to heaven. Make disciples. That’s it. Many churches today are simply not getting the job done. Over 85% of church attenders will tell you they have never been discipled by anyone. All of the polls are indicating that people who claim to be Christians do not have lives that are significantly different from secular people. If worship services and small groups were getting the job done, we would be seeing a much higher caliber of believer than we see today.
Personal evangelism and discipleship is the foundation for making disciples. The one-on-one or one-on-two connection is the only place we find significant accountability. A person can attend a small group and still not be held accountable for their growth. Personal evangelism and discipleship is the most effective way to fulfill the great commission. We desperately need great worship services and small groups, but we also need personal accountability as a foundation for making strong reproducing disciple makers.
Multiplication Rather Than Addition
If you were an incredibly gifted evangelist and God used you to lead 3,000 people a day to Christ, you would have a very successful ministry according to any standards. But if the world’s population did not increase, it would still take you 5,000 years to win the whole world to Christ. But what if you won just one person to Christ and spent a full year helping them get rooted and grounded in the faith through personal evangelism and discipleship. Then you trained them with transferable concepts that they could use with someone else, and they took the next year to do the same thing as you discipled someone else. Through multiplication, you could win and disciple over 1,000 people in ten years and it would be mathematically possible to reach the population of the whole world in 35 years.
Are you investing in addition or multiplication? Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2 “And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” This is a description of four generations of disciples, starting with Paul who taught Timothy who would teach faithful men who would be equipped to teach others. This is the power of multiplication. The key to this is transferable concepts that can be handed down from one generation of disciples to the next.
This is a systematic, sequential approach to relationship evangelism and discipleship that is quickly transferable from one person to the next.
Life’s Most Important Questions…
is a Bible discussion that deals with the gospel in a very thorough way, and yet it also provides an opportunity to discuss the most important questions anyone can consider. They are the questions, “Where did I come from?”, “Who am I?”, “Why am I here?”, and Where am I going?” It is very user friendly, with a format that would allow you to sit down with a person over lunch and begin reading together as you discuss and answer questions that will open up hearts and allow each participant to share their true honest values with each other.
Features of “Life’s Most Important Questions”
- It raises interest in issues everyone is dealing with.
- It is interactive, allowing the participants to share from personal life experiences instead of just listening to a thirty minute presentation.
- It provides a way for the leader to discern where a person is coming from in their spiritual journey and religious background.
- It shows respect for the participant’s life story.
- It starts with the fact that we are created in God’s image, which is where the Bible starts.
- It makes use of the ten commandments for their expressed purpose of serving as a tutor to show us our need for forgiveness.
- It provides a more complete presentation of the life of Christ than just the fact that He is God and that He died for our sins. We are asking people to commit the rest of their lives to a man they know nothing about.
- It gives a biblical understanding of repentance which is not changing in our own strength, but rather trusting Christ in us to empower us to change.
- It calls people to become disciples, not just converts.
- This Bible discussion is given to a non-Christian with an invitation to check it out and see if they are open to growing spiritually through several weekly meetings to discuss the content. This is a non-threatening way to see if they are ready to talk about spiritual things. We need to look for open hearts that are seeking and ready to discover new spiritual life. Most non-Christians will tell you that they are not religious but are very spiritual. God is already preparing the hearts of those He wants us to share with. We just need to ask the right questions to see if they are ready.
We are seeing phenomenal results as we take time to thoroughly go through the gospel over a several week period as we build a genuine friendship with the person we are seeking to reach. This has given people time to process the gospel and count the cost of being a true follower of Christ.
After coming to Christ, we need to nurture their new life much like the very personal one-on-one attention a newborn baby gets. The Groundwork Series is designed to start with a new Christian to help them become rooted and grounded in the faith. The following is a list of the six studies that will follow Life’s Most Important Questions.
The Groundwork Series (Overview of each session)
Receiving the Word- This is a relational discussion of the Parable of the Sower. The reason this is the first study is because it immediately shows a new believer how people can relate differently to the Word of God. They will see that they will either have the hard soil of a stolen heart, the rocky soil of a tested heart, the thorny soil of a distracted heart, or the fertile soil of a noble heart. We want to help them get started right with the fertile soil of a noble heart.
Assurance of Salvation- How sure are you that if you died today, you would go to heaven? This discussion leads the believer to have confidence in the promises of God in his Word, and to also understand the biblical evidences of fruit that must be present in order for a person to know for sure that they have eternal life.
Victory Over Sin- The struggle with sin can defeat a believer if they do not know how to quickly and immediately deal with it. During this study we will see that even though we were born into sin with a sin nature, Christ defeated the power of sin through His life, death, and resurrection. We as believers in Christ have the ability to confess, repent, and be forgiven from our sins. This study shows us how.
Power for Living- The Christian life is not hard, it is impossible. We are not called to live it in our own strength, but to draw from the power of the Spirit of Christ in us as the hope of glory. In this lesson, we will see how we receive the promised Holy Spirit, what it means to be filled with the Spirit, and the blessings that come from yielding to the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Cost of Discipleship- Jesus did not bring a gospel of easy believism. He called people to count the cost of following Him. One of the reasons we have such shallow expressions of Christian faith is because we have not called people to count the cost of following Christ according to His standards. This study exposes the challenging gospel according to Jesus as He drew a line in the sand and said over and over again, “You cannot be my disciple unless……”
The Disciplines of Grace- We are saved by grace and we live by grace, but that grace calls us to discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness. Just as an athlete or a musician must enter into certain disciplines in order to master the skills necessary to excel, a Christian must enter into certain disciplines that will be an expression of our love for Christ. This study exposes us to eight personal, corporate, and kingdom disciplines necessary to experience our full potential as followers of Christ.
If Christianity is essentially a relationship with Christ, then it makes sense that the first thing we need to do with a new believer is to help them get acquainted with Jesus. They need to immediately learn how to hear from God Himself.
is an eight week journal that will give them the resources to start having a daily time alone with God in prayer and Bible study. It has a quiet time guide, and it teaches them how to use the inductive approach to reading through the book of Luke in eight weeks. As they read just a half a chapter a day, they will learn how to ask questions in order to discover the observation, interpretation, and application of each passage of scripture.
Each week the mentor will meet with the new follower of Christ to discuss what they both learned in their daily Journey with God. They will simply share what they recorded in their journal. It will be amazing to see a new believer hear directly from God and to discover how He speaks so personally to each person.
During each meeting, the discipler and disciplee will also discuss essential sequential topics that are vital to the establishment and health of a new believer.
Steps to Knowing God…
was written to provide a resource for leading a person to Christ who is ready to receive Christ. It is a short discussion guide that allows you to lead them through the essential truths of the gospel and how to receive Christ. It starts out with some very good questions to see if they are open and ready to discuss how to receive Christ. The question “How would you describe your faith experience?” will open up their heart to reveal what their faith background has been and where they are in their spiritual journey.
As you read through the booklet with them, there are more questions to ask that will reveal what is going on in their heart rather than just reading and asking them if they want to pray a prayer. This is really what distinguishes this from many other gospel tracts you may have seen. It is still a discussion.