Disciples, Not Converts

I was reading through and old classic by Dawson E. Trotman, Born to Reproduce. Here is a selection from it that I found again especially challenging:

“You can lead a soul to Christ in twenty minutes to a couple of hours. But it takes from twenty weeks to a couple of years to get him on the road to maturity, victorious over the sins and the recurring problems that come along. He must learn how to make right decisions. He must be warned of the various “isms” that are likely to reach out with their octopus arms and pull him in and sidetrack him. 

But when you get yourself a man, you have doubled your ministry — in fact, you have more than doubled your ministry. Do you know why? When you teach your man, he sees how it is done and he imitates you. 

If I were the minister of a church and had deacons or elders to pass the plate and choir members to sing, I would say, “Thank God for your help. We need you. Praise the Lord for these extra things that you do,” but I would keep pressing home the big job — “Be fruitful and multiply.” 

All these other things are incidental to the supreme task of winning a man or woman to Jesus Christ and then helping him or her to go on. 

Where is your man? Where is your woman? 

Do you have one? You can ask God for one. Search your hearts. Ask the Lord, “Am I spiritually sterile? 

If I am, why am I?”

Dawson’s statement also reminded me of this statement by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism:

“I was more convinced than ever that the preaching like an apostle, without joining together those that are awakened and training them up in the ways of God, is only begetting children for the murderer… The consequence of our years of evangelism here is that nine in ten of the once awakened are now faster asleep than ever.”

Challenging words. May God empower us not merely to be about the business of gathering people into an audience, but to the harder work of discipling them into fully devoted followers of Christ! In my view, one discipled believer has greater impact on the world than 10 people who make a merely superficial commitment to Jesus.

The way we say it around the Summit Church is, “We’re after disciples, not converts.”

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J.D. Greear, Ph.D., is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastors the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC. Tagged by Outreach magazine as one of the fastest growing churches in America, the Summit has grown in the past 8 years from 400 to over 5,000 each weekend. The Summit Church is deeply involved in global church planting, having undertaken the mission to plant 1000 churches in the next 40 years. J.D. has authored Breaking the Islam Code and the upcoming Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary.