Jesus worked very closely with His disciples for only a few years. During that time, He said very little about the look of their future ministries and He gave them very little in the way of specific theological detail. What He did provide was a goal.
For example, Jesus made a few comments on divorce and remarriage (Matt. 19) which left the disciples bewildered. Their conclusion was, why bother to get married at all. Obviously, they, along with many others since, missed His meaning. We still fight over that one.
The fact is, there were many points of theology which Jesus did not attempt to address in great detail. But, the one thing Jesus did was give the disciples a target. After His resurrection and before His ascension (a period of forty days), on more than one occasion, He made His expectations very clear. In brief, He said…
- As the Father sent Me (to remit the sins of others), I am sending you to do the same. (John 20:21-23)
- Go and make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:19)
- Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.(Mark 16:15)
- Be witnesses to me everywhere including the uttermost. (Acts 1:8)
These statements are concise, to the point and focus only on one thing, the end result. Jesus gave the first disciples, and us, a very clear objective. The scope of our work is the entire world and the ultimate goal is fruit (souls being saved). Everything we do, even discipleship, is predicated on this outcome.
Any Christian at the start of their walk with Jesus can know exactly what is expected of them. They are to win others to Christ in large numbers (John 15:5 & 8). Some people argue against this idea but for the life of me I can’t figure out why.
There is no rationale for limiting your activity and justifying miniscule results. People who think this way are: small minded, bigoted, self-righteous, fearful, incapable, confused, uninformed, etc., and usually become stodgy, stiff, wooden, dull, boring and irrelevant. Unfortunately, those who bear no fruit resort to finding fault with those who do.
One argument often used against success is “pragmatism.” If someone is getting a large numbers of people saved, the automatic assumption is, they must be doing something wrong. Results are ignored and methods are over analyzed. The unfruitful person, not the Bible, becomes the standard by which all others, particularly those bearing fruit, must be judged.
The “unfruitful” also use “success rate” as a smoke screen. If a program has a large number of professions they question how many of them are genuine. Well, I would rather have twenty-five percent of a large crop than one hundred percent of no crop at all. Twenty-five good professions out of one hundred are better than even one out of only two. No method has a hundred percent success rate.
Anyone who fabricates a spiritual reason to justify very little or no fruit misrepresents the Bible and will still be embarrassed when they get to heaven. Methods don’t go to heaven. Only souls do. If the method you use doesn’t bear fruit, it is your responsibility to keep changing until you find one that does.
The interesting thing about the target statements of Jesus is the complete lack of any strategic content. The outcome is in view not the methodology. Jesus does not tell us how to reach the goal. He apparently assumes we have enough sense to figure out what works and what doesn’t and the initiative to get on the with the job. Jesus wants us to make the gospel known to every person and how we get that done is not an issue.
No, I am not suggesting we do anything immoral to evangelize the world, although, interestingly enough, I know of people who, even though immorally engaged, have witnessed to and won people to Christ. Go figure!
What I am saying is, that apart from immoral methods, evangelism is pretty much an “anything goes” project. Any method you can imagine, you can use. You can be silly, unusual, very different, non-traditional (culturally relevant), entertaining or whatever, but above all you must be effective. Businesses that are ineffective don’t stay in business and churches should be subject to the same rule, although I have known some to die and never know it.
Believe it or not, It’s OK to be shallow. In fact, you must be. Salvation is not complex. The issues are not that difficult to understand. The world is swimming on the surface so don’t fish on the bottom. We are trying to win the lost not impress demagogues. We must meet prospects where they are and give them what they can handle.
If your method works, it is right. If your method doesn’t work, it is wrong. God and the angels in heaven rejoice every time a soul is saved regardless the methodologies used, even if other Christians grumble.
So, get off your pompous posterior and evangelize your community. If possible, join hands with others doing the same. And, since God is not the author of confusion, strategize a little to encourage efficiency.
If at first you don’t succeed keep trying new methods until you do but, please, don’t gravitate to the withdrawn, isolated, holy huddles in which fruitless participants pat each other on the back because they would never stoop to using “ungodly” methods of evangelism. Find the fish and use any method you can to catch them.
If Jesus wasn’t concerned about how many people you bring to salvation He would have said…
“Follow Me and I will make you good teachers of men.”
That ain’t what He said. What do you THINK!AboutIt?