Part 1 of this post ended with me saying, "This may be a little controversial for some, but let me say we shouldn't look for opportunities to convert someone. No...we should look for opportunities to make a disciple!"
I'm sure you have realized that man's plan is not always God's plan. As a matter of fact, man's plan is never God's plan! Man has a tendency to manufacture what we think is God's plan, but it is really man's version of what we think is God's plan. This comes from a simple misunderstanding of the Scriptures. Not that the Scriptures are complicated, but man tends to modify the Scriptures to fit within the frame of man's mentality, when what we should do is renew our minds with God's Word, (or simply change our thinking to God's way of thinking)
Jesus said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matt. 28: 19 - 20) We call this the Great Commission. Our understanding of the Great Commission is that we go out, convert people, and then we make disciples of them. But is this really Scriptural? I'm willing to stick my neck out and say NO! According to Jesus we are to go and make disciples. Certainly this process includes evangelism (conversions), but not exactly the way man has made it to be. Hold on to your hat as I tell you this. No where did Jesus say we must make converts first! He just said go and make disciples of all the nations. Man has separated evangelism from the process of making disciples. Did Jesus ever say that discipleship has to begin with a freshly born again Christian? No He did not. But before you think I am a heretic read on.
I think you will agree Jesus is our prime example. He spent 3 and 1/2 years making disciples out of the 12 disciples, preparing them to be the 12 apostles. He demonstrated, taught, and mentored these followers of His. Were they saved? No. Were Jesus' intentions for them to be saved at the proper time? Absolutely.
I simply love Jesus famous "Sermon on the Mount". This powerful teaching is what we call the Beattitudes. Who can deny that this wealth of instruction from the mouth of Jesus is the lifeblood of our daily walk with Jesus as His followers. But were those folks gathered around the Mount of Olives that day born again at the end of his message? No. Was Jesus making disciples? Yes. Many of those folks later became born again, and some didn't.
As I said earlier, Jesus is our prime example. Too much emphasis is put on winning another soul to Jesus. Instead, our emphasis should be on making a disciple. For some that will mean preparing the way of the Lord in their hearts as we share God's kingdom principles with unbelievers. Others will be primed and ready to accept Jesus at first contact. But in either scenario making disciples should be the focus.
When evangelism is separated from the process of making disciples, many people will say the sinner's prayer and not truly be saved. And many who make a quick decision may fall away. This is because man's idea of evangelism is conversion, not discipleship. But when hearts are prepared by the Word of God through the discipleship process, the result will be commitments, not decisions. Making disciples starts as Christians connect with lost folks in practical ways and means, sharing the principles of God's Kingdom. Jesus called this the "Gospel of the Kingdom". And Paul said, "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ." This faith Paul speaks of is not the faith for that newer, bigger, and better house. But faith to receive Jesus into one's heart.
I recently read an article about a young man who was saved. An older Christian man took him under his wing and began to disciple this young man. This went on for many months. Day by day he was taught the principles of God's Kingdom. About 5 years later this young man had planted around 8 churches that were blossoming for Jesus. He was being used mightily by God. He was well-grounded in God's Word. Sounds pretty good to me. It brings up the question one more time, are we doing the right thing?
I am available to speak in churches, conferences, workshops, special meetings, and groups. For more information you can contact me firstname.lastname@example.org.