The Gospel – For here or to go?

by Ben Taylor on 27/10/2010

This is an excerpt from “The Gospel – For here or to go?” by Keith Giles. Click here to download a free copy…

“First, we’re called to go. It seems simple enough, but what frustrates me is how often I see us in the Church flipping things around the other way. For the most part, the organized Church has built a model of evangelism and discipleship that says, “Come to us.” We build large buildings, we buy plasma television screens to announce our upcoming events, we host large-scale musicals and plays to dramatize the Gospel, and we instruct our members to invite their friends to Church so that the professional clergy can do the evangelizing. I’m not trying to say that these methods are wrong or evil, but just that we’ve taken a very simple and clear command to go and made it into a call for the world to come to us- to our house, with our rules, on our terms. This just isn’t what Jesus commanded us to do. Jesus very easily could have commanded us to create appealing environments where the world felt welcome. He could have commanded us to make space for unbelievers to show up and meet us on our terms, but He didn’t. What He commanded us to do was to go out and, in the course of our everyday, regular life, communicate and live out the message of the Gospel to those we encounter along the way.

Secondly, Jesus commands us to make disciples. A disciple is someone who is daily,intentionally following Jesus with their whole life.A disciple is not a convert. If you take a look at how our local churches practice evangelism you’ll probably see a lot of emphasis placed on winning people to Christ, getting them to come forward in the meeting to make a public profession of faith, and not as much emphasis on taking them from this first stepinto all the other steps that follow. As one example, I recently came across a very helpful tool called “The Engel’s Scale” which charts the slow progression by degrees of those who are far from God and how they slowly come to faith in Christ over time and with the assistance of loving friends and the Holy Spirit. What I found troubling about the scale was that it stopped at conversion. As if, after the conversion experience, we no longer had any need to chart their ongoing development and discipleship to Jesus. Again, the entire emphasis was on conversion,not on discipleship.I understand that there are exceptions to this over-emphasis on conversion within the Body of Christ, and for that I am very grateful. I’m simply pointing out that, at least as far as I have seen, most modern American churches seem to focus entirely too much on conversion and not enough on discipleship,which is expressly what Jesus commanded us to focus on. Conversion is essential, for obvious reasons, but discipleship is central to our calling. We need to return to the basic instructions of Our Lord and begin to make disciples.

Thirdly, Jesus commands us in the Great Commission to “teach them to obey everything I have commanded.” I find this part the most painful to explore. Simply put, I have never once encountered a church or a ministry where the main goal was to emphasize the commands of Jesus or to communicate a strong expectation of obedience for those who would call themselves disciples of Jesus.If you want to know whether or not the Church has been obedient in the third section of The Great Commission, just ask yourself if you can name all of the commands of Jesus. If you don’t know what all of these commands are, you not only cannot teach others to obey them, you yourself cannot obey them. Jesus had an expectation that those who would follow him would…well…follow him. Obedience to Jesus is not an optional activity for disciples. Over and over again Jesus spoke about how those who love him would obey his commands….”

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