Resourcing Jesus Followers to Coach from No Faith to New Faith to Multiplying Faith

One Voice

EDITORIAL ARCHIVE

One heart, one voice, one mind
One vision of a new lifetime
Song "Power of One"

On behalf of the lost...and the newly found.

Below you will find editorial commentary from the author of the New Christian Life materials.

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The Passion of the Christ Included a Very Lonely Cross

Most of my life I have consciously benefited from the passion of Jesus, the Christ. After seeing Mel Gibson's movie, for the rest of my life I will more deeply appreciate the pain that Jesus embraced in His human body so I can know Him. He decided to die out of His love for all humans who all need to be loved by Him. Jesus clearly stated, "I lay down my life - only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again." (John 10:17-18)

Jesus willingly suffered the full punishment that God's justice requires for our sin. Part of that was physical pain. God arranged Jesus' earthly circumstances so humans could torture Him to physical death. But before His natural death came, He experienced in His spirit God's wrath for man's sins in a way that equaled eternal suffering in hell. This was apparently completed before Jesus' physical death, as indicated by His victory shout from the cross, "It is accomplished!" Jesus "paid in full" for our sins! The price tag on our lives shows how much we are worth to God.

One significant part of Jesus' pain that day is a factor often overlooked. Jesus told His disciples in the garden that even though they would soon desert Him, He said, "I am not alone, because the Father is with Me." (John16:32) The disciples had often heard Jesus make reference to His "Father", reflecting their eternally and ultimately close relationship. Jesus was also looking forward to eternally rejoining His Father in heaven. (John 17:5) But a dark chasm of alienation opened up between those two eternities!

In the middle of His crucifixion, Jesus cries out, "My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?" (Mark 15:34) For Jesus to suffer the equivalent of hell for our sin, He had to experience total separation from God's presence and love, in addition to the felt pain of hell. Jesus was left alone in the universe. He could not address God as His "Father" while alienated from Him on the cross. He could only cry out in confused terror to ask why He had been deserted by the One He had lived with and for throughout eternity past. He could see no evidence of reunion on its way. He could only suffer in the suspense of totally blind faith.

Celebration breaks out in heaven when Jesus shouts in triumphant from the cross: "It is accomplished!" The celebration swells when Jesus concludes His time on the cross with: "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!" God the Father runs to welcome home His first born prodigal Son - with many others to follow. The Father "rejoices in the presence of the angels". "Let us eat and be merry," He says, "for this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found!" Amazing grace says the invitation to rejoice was issued again when I "came home" to my welcoming Heavenly Father!

Because Jesus was lost and found, I can sing with the songwriter: "I stand amazed in the presence, of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how He could love me, a sinner - condemned, unclean!"

 


IMMORAL SEDUCERS

In the textbook for Evangelism Explosion, D. James Kennedy makes the following statement regarding discipling new believers: "To disciple another properly requires a vision of what the grace of God can do for a person. Those who are satisfied with merely proclaiming the Gospel and receiving professions are like immoral seducers. The seducer is satisfied merely to exploit and then tell of his exploits rather than entering into a meaningful marriage commitment."

When I first read these impacting words, all I could think of was - I didn't want to be an immoral seducer! I didn't want to just lead someone to the Lord and walk away. I wanted to take seriously the call to disciple and allow Christ to work through me so that they would become mature believers.

Discipleship is sharing the love of Jesus with those around us. Whether it be through a formal discipling relationship in which we have a set agenda of material to cover each week or if it is discipling through just the time we spend together. It is loving, caring people - not materials and programs - that make disciples.

In Acts chapter 2 it tells us that 3000 got added to the Lord. So often we interpret this to mean that they got saved, but what it really means is that they became disciples - functional, maturing, reproducing followers of Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of the Lord is about building relationships. Discipleship is exactly that. It is building a relationship with someone through love, respect, unity and closeness. It is about showing kindness that speaks louder than words and let's others know that we are followers of Jesus Christ. Discipleship is about holding each other accountable, for both celebration and correction! It is about being an example that others can follow.

In 2 Thessalonians 3:9 Paul writes "We did this in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow." Christ has called each one of us to be disciples, to be an example. D. James Kennedy writes, "Whether you like it or not, you are going to multiply 'after your kind.' Therefore be sure you are the kind that should be multiplied." Strong words but true. Discipleship is an awesome responsibility in which you will influence someone through your relationship with him or her and the Lord. We need to make sure that our relationship with the Lord is strong because discipleship - making functional, maturing, reproducing followers of Jesus Christ - is an awesome privilege given to us by the Almighty!

Louise Brassard
Discipleship Coordinator
First A/G, Manchester NH

 



Everyday Evangelism

"REVIVAL" BRINGS, DISCIPLING ADDS. The Jerusalem church did not count decisions at Pentecost, they only counted additions who "devoted themselves" to participating in the life of the church - which included continually adding more (Acts 2:41-42,47). Following is a simple cycle of increase patterned after the New Testament church that I call "Everyday Evangelism". Consider it prayerfully. There is no easier or more economical way to mobilize an entire congregation to do one-to-one evangelism and one-to-one discipling of new believers - every day! (Ask Pastor Earl Banning, Braeswood Assembly of God, Houston, Texas.)

Phase One: "Seedtime" - On a designated Sunday morning, distribute to every person present a packet of 100 "God's Adoption Contracts" (or other interesting looking, clear, honest-to-Gospel tract). On four consecutive Sunday mornings, encourage the people to not leave home without tracts in pockets and purses and "day-timers". As they go to work, school, store, recreation, and to visit family and friends, remind them to share with those they meet their little Good News announcements with a smile and a "Here's some good news". (This is THE easiest way to start and continue witnessing. One individual sharing 3-4 tracts a day for 30 days will bring the Gospel person-to-person, face-to-face with 100 persons.) On the next three Sunday mornings after the launching, ask for testimonies (this is essential!) from the people, about how the Holy Spirit has "opened doors for the Word, so they can speak forth (or give out) the mystery of Christ" (Col.4:3). The testimonies do not have to be dramatic. The more mundane they are, the more the timid ones will be encouraged to follow the example. God is a great booking agent, and the people will have testimonies! (In following months, this phase can be made ongoing through S.S. classes, home groups, or ministry groups.)

Phase Two: "Planting" - Have the people write down a spiritual "Hit List" of lost persons the Spirit is impressing on their hearts to concentrate on reaching. Often that will be a person contacted during "Seedtime". Have the church members form Prayer Partnerships, to pray for each other's witness and for the #1 "wanted" person on each others' witness lists. Partners should be in contact at least once per week to encourage each other and exchange witness updates and pray together. Urge all Prayer Partners to purchase a StartUP Studies booklet, and begin to discuss with each other and put into practice the simple training lessons on friendship evangelism. The lesson on discipling should also be discussed thoroughly in preparation for the next phase.

Phase Three: "Harvest" - Have Prayer Partners discuss together the four lessons for new believers. This is preparation for personally discipling a new believer for one month (one regular lesson per week, plus the evangelism/discipling training lessons) in their home or other place convenient to them. While discipling during the week, on Sundays bring them to church, sit with them, and introduced them to pastoral staff, Sunday School teachers, friends, and other appropriate ministry leaders. Look for new doors for evangelism to open during the discipling process, both for new believers and for disciplers. This brings everyone back to Phase One and Two...

Bottom lines: 1) No special outreach events or meetings; weather is not a factor; no advertising costs. 2) 100 Sunday morning attenders with 100 tracts each can witness face- to-face, person-to-person to 10,000 lost persons (low cost, high contact) in a short time. (Do the math!) 3) People will be saved and added through relationships! (Other references available.)


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Where Did The THREE MILLION Go?
 

I read with sadness our general superintendent's report of the nine of ten years of the Decade of Harvest for which we have reported numbers. 3,000,000 of the 3.5 million people who were reported as praying for salvation in that nine year period were not added to a body of A/G believers. (A suggestion: Jerusalem church reporting practice was to only count those who were "added", not those who made "decisions". It would help our focus if we adopted that practice.)

When Kevin Weaver was still at James River A/G, he told me they were keeping (adding) about 85% of those who prayed to receive Christ (their criteria was the new believer was attending both morning worship AND Sunday School) - a phenomenal statistic. In one three year stretch, James River had over 1,000 first time adult conversions, with around 850 added to the church!

The key to such success? Their emphasis throughout their growth years has been friendship evangelism. Preceding the many walks to the altar by repentant sinners in the services, were friendships and fervent witness by church members to those sinners BEFORE they were willing to walk. I believe those relationships with sinners PRIOR to their conversion served to tie them into the body AFTER their conversion. Kevin also believes the clear explanation of commitment to Christ and to other believers as part of the salvation invitation were additional keys.
The strong sense of purpose to reach the lost that was basic to unity of the body was a great holding force for those new ones who came in with connections to many others who also needed salvation.

A/G emphasis is primarily on event evangelism - with most responders having little or no relationship with church members prior to "going forward", and so easily drift away afterward as the church waits for them to make their way to discipleship events.

When church members become "friends with sinners", it is easy to continue to be "discipling friends" with new believers. The older Christian is welcomed into the home (or other comfortable setting for interaction/fellowship) of the new believer for friendship discipling - planned or spontaneous. This tie helps brings them into the church family.

The denotation of (literally) "DISCIPLE the nations" (not "make disciples") is a mandate of PROCESS - commanding relational evangelism AND relational instruction after conversion that will see them through water baptism and be able to "teach them to DO all that (Jesus) commanded (us) to do." (as per Matt. 28:19-20). Jesus spent three years modeling His mandate. James River A/G has spent several years modeling the mandate for us. May God continue to bless many through them - and may the mainstream of the Assemblies pay attention and practice obedience! 3,000,000 souls is a high price for our neglect.


Lord, give us Your love for the lost,
and Your joy in the found!



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