As we go from non-believer to disciple there are four steps we all must take. We each are on a journey and the chances are we have taken the same steps. The key to this journey is knowing where you have been and where you are going.
If I want to talk about sports, I need to know at least a little about sports or no one is going to listen to me or consider my opinion as one that is worthy to be considered. In today’s society, people are looking for a genuine connection. They want us to be real with them. In the past starting with God worked, today we have to start with us. Who were you before Christ? Who are you after Christ? What changed? Why did it change?
These are questions we must be able to answer when we are going to talk about our faith. The conversation has to be natural, but it also has to be purposed. I can share with you all that God has done for me in my life, but I cannot forget the hook. The hook is that He will do the same for you.
Let’s take a moment to look at some stats:
82% of unchurched are likely to attend church if invited by
a friend. (2013, Lifeway)
60% of conversions happen through a friend or family member.
17% of conversions happen through a pastor or church staff member.
As someone who is an advocate for focusing on ministry instead of attendance, I find some of this intriguing. I firmly believe that the “church” has a mission to go out and reach the lost in their community. I also believe that we should be more focused on spiritual growth than church growth. I think that encouraging spiritual growth will eventually lead to church growth. Here are what the stats tell us. Most spiritual growth happens inside a traditional “church” setting. This is where we build disciples and we cannot gloss over what is happening in our sanctuaries to the point that no one wants to be there.
It is almost like the old riddle of which came first, the chicken or the egg.
In my mind, we each have four steps in our faith journey. Statistics tell us that two of those steps are dependent on personal testimony and the other two are dependent on community worship.
So, since the majority of unchurched will come if invited and most spiritual growth is happening inside the church, we are left with two things. We must be inviting others to church and we must be creating programs inside the church that allow others to learn who Christ is and what He has planned for their life. We cannot sacrifice one for the other.
Remember that there was a time in your life in which you had to be introduced to Christ. Just a few weeks ago I joked with a friend at church when she mentioned the day her husband came to know Christ. Her husband was one of the greatest men I knew and I just could not imagine a time he did not follow Christ. However, just like me and everyone else, there was. Just like Simon who had to be brought to Christ by his brother Andrew and introduced to him. There has to be an introduction and the survey says that for many in today’s society that comes from a personal and genuine conversation. The late, D.L. Moody, (author and evangelist) was introduced to Christ in the back of a shoe store.
After we are introduced to Christ, we must learn who He is. This is where “church” begins to matter. If you are just being introduced to Christ, then having a church is very important. This is where you will find a small group or Sunday School Class or Bible Study that will help you learn more about Christ and His plan for your life. Surrounding yourself with others who are on the same journey and have been where you are is a key step that we must take, or an introduction will turn into a conversation about that one time someone told me about Jesus.
So, you have been introduced to Christ, you have learned who He is and what His plans for your life are. The next step is to experience God. To accept the relationship that He is asking for. For many, this is the last step they ever take on this journey. The come to the cross and meet Jesus and accept Him for all that He is but they go no further. I once saw a video in which a pastor talked all about Krispy Kreme donuts. He basically gave a class on Krispy Kreme donuts.
After he was done talking he said that everyone now, knew about Krispy Kreme but that knowing was nothing compared to experiencing a Krispy Kreme as he pulled one out and ate it. The same is true with Jesus. It does not matter how much we know about Him. What matters is when we decide to seek a relationship with Christ and we truly experience Him.
It has many names, witnessing, testifying, evangelism, kingdom building, but no matter what you call it our command is to go and make disciples. We do this by taking our story and introducing someone else to Christ. My pastor recently shared that Salvation is the act of meeting Jesus at the cross, and Discipleship is the act of taking up the cross and following Him. We are not commanded to be content with our own salvation, we are called to take our cross and follow Him daily. To die to ourselves, and to live for His cause.
Accepting Your Role
Here is the catch. Many of us, myself included, want to see the whole process through but that is not always the case. We want to be part of the salvation story. We want the big moment but that may not be the role we are to play. Many times, the person who plants a tree never sees it grow to its full potential, just as many of those who introduce someone to Christ may never see them grow to their full potential. It is important to remember that we are all parts of one body and must act accordingly.
If God has put you in a place to introduce someone to Christ, then do that. If He has put you in the place to help someone become more educated, then do that. Whatever God is calling you to do is what you should do. Don’t worry about what is going to happen next, God will take care of that. Andrew did not worry about what would happen next, he just introduced Simon to Jesus and the rest is history.
The Big Question
God is calling you to be a part of someone else’s journey, will you do it? Well here is the catcher, you are either bringing people closer to God or moving them further away? You are either for God and bringing others to Him or you are against Him and don’t want to see His kingdom grow. God has called us to be people of action and we need to find out where God is calling us to act and get busy.