I said yesterday that we would be looking more at the situation of the modern-day church. As I consider it, I think one of the main problems is with the concept of conversion. We are so excited in the church about going out and converting people to the truth. However, there is a problem I see with this.
Jesus did not call us to make converts. He called us to make disciples.
My accepting Christ as Lord and Savior as is usually termed took place when I was 11 and a half. I just heard the message for the first time in a Baptist church. In all my years in church, I had never heard about accepting Christ as Lord and Savior like that. It sounded like a good deal to me, so I took it immediately.
So what happened then?
Now I do believe I was saved then. However, the church didn’t do anything. I didn’t really tell anyone to be sure, but I don’t remember being asked to tell. In fact, I wasn’t even baptized until years later. (I’m hydrophobic, but I decided to face my fear despite in that time after my conversion I had had a steel rod strapped on my spine. I was baptized in a Methodist church that had a baptistry and went under far enough for it to count at least.)
I basically taught myself though. I read the Bible and the first time I read it all the way through, I think I was in 7th grade. Study though wasn’t really what I was doing at the time. It was just something I was doing. I did attend some Bible Study groups and I attended one for young men especially that really helped me in High School. As soon as I got the internet, instead of video games and other such things, I wanted to chat about Christianity.
Yet it wasn’t until I got to Bible College that I even learned about apologetics.
Sometimes I look back and wonder “Lord. Why did you let me go through all that time that I could have been training myself but instead, I wasn’t. Why couldn’t I have been told about this by someone in the church earlier?”
Then I think, maybe it was so I could get a passion for this.
We are not told to make converts. We are told to make disciples. Too often today in the church, we think we get them to cross the line and accept Christ as savior and lo and behold, our work is done.
Sadly, I’ll confess, I’ve been guilty of that.
This is why so many young people get excited about Christ in church but when they go off to college, they’re not ready and become atheists. Why? Because they only got emotion. I saw it happen several times even before my interest in apologetics. For personal reasons, I avoided overnight trips with the youth group, but I would see them go to these big weekend getaways and come back all excited about Christ. What happens one week later?
Nothing. They’re back to “normal.”
These kids had an emotional high and when the emotion was gone, so was the commitment to Christ. Friends. If my commitment to Christ was based on my emotion, I would be in a lot of trouble. Now I am not anti-emotion. I do have emotions. I just don’t have strong emotions about matters of faith. I think I have passion, but not emotion.
Friends. Christ is not just Lord when we are feeling good and the world is great. Christ is Lord even when we are not. We are not called to serve Christ when we feel like it. We are called to serve Christ irregardless. If our destiny and our purpose in life changes constantly with our emotions, we are in for a world of trouble.
So thus, it could be that being one who was not discipled, I now see the importance of it.
We cannot get people to convert and then leave them there. They must be trained. If we don’t, we have the situation of the burned-over district. That was when Charles Finney came through with mass revivals and “altar calls.” Thousands of people came forward, but they had no root. In this district, there was high spiritual excitement, but no knowledge to go with it. Any shock that the Mormons and JWs both came from that area? Where were the people of knowledge then?!
Friends. Be ready to disciple. When new people come up and join the church, offer to teach them. There are sheep stealers posing at times in your church that belong to cults and are waiting to get new converts. Don’t you let them. In the Mormon church and the Kingdom Halls, I assure you they are training new members! While we should argue against the cults, we can learn a lot from their techniques! Dr. Walter Martin once said that the average JW can turn the average Christian into a doctrinal pretzel in 90 seconds or less. Sadly, I agree.
Why is this again? Because that Christian does not have knowledge. He only has emotion. Friends. When someone from the other side comes against you with hard arguments, it will not work to just develop a happy feeling. You should feel what is in accordance with reality. Not what denies reality. That also does not help the other person or surrounding people. It is only about you. That person is to be given an answer, not a feeling.
In fact, you need more than a feeling when you face the biggest critic you will meet. It is not going to be Frank Zindler or Richard Dawkins or any of these others out there that have been answered time and time again. The biggest critic you will usually face will be yourself. When that time comes, an emotion cannot win the day. Truth will.
Friends. Let us not neglect discipleship. It is what Christ called us to make. It requires hard work and dedication and sticking with some people, but it needs to be done. Find some people you can disciple. In many places I have been to, I have tried to find at least one or two that have a strong interest and train them up. Hopefully, they will train up others.
Readers of my blog know I have moved recently. Before I left though, a good friend of mine there was talking about doing a book study on Case for Christ. That is what I am talking about. You train one and it just spreads. The gospel is something to get excited about and it is something to train people up on.
And besides, Christ said to do it. It’s hard, but he’s your Lord, and you are to obey.