This blog is the second part of a two-part blog. To fully grasp it the reader should read “The Crowd Animal – Part 1″ first. Simply go to “Recent Blogs” and click on it there, then return to this blog for the conclusion. Thanks.

To me, the goal of the Great Commission is not to get a lost person “saved” or un-lost. Rather it is to disciple someone out of darkness and into light. So, I do not develop a relationship for the sake of getting someone saved, inviting them to my church, or bringing them to my Bible study. I develop relationships to disciple.

As a minister or missionary people ask me, “How many people have you lead to the Lord, lately?” My response is, “Everyone I’ve met, where else would I lead them.” I know their question comes from a typical Christian mindset which has salvation as its goal. But my answer is based in the understanding that we are called to disciple people rather than “convert” them. Consequently, the relationships I attempt to develop do not begin with the overt goal of “getting someone saved.” Rather when I begin a relationship it is with the hopeful intent that it will develop into one of disciple making.

Making a disciple is a journey. It begins with a new relationship and then blossoms into mentoring. This requires spending time with the disciple – in essence living life with this person. There is a wonderful question we hope the new disciple will ask at some point. Or perhaps it will come as a comment. But however it comes about, as a disciple maker we should all really want to hear this question or comment. Here it is: “Your different. What makes you so different than everyone else I know.” That’s when the person is ready to make Jesus their Lord and King. And in the process of becoming their Lord and King, the new disciple will become saved as well.

At this point we begin to disciple in a different way. Now we can ardently teach the disciple about our Lord and King. To do that, we spend time with the disciple because we need to demonstrate our dependence upon the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Hopefully, they have already seen some of this in our lives. Now we should be seeking the opportunity to demonstrate the miracles of the Kingdom of God, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the grace of Jesus Christ. Our goal is to release the new disciple to make new disciples and thereby, expand the kingdom of God.

Karen and I have pursued relationships in places few Christians go – at least they don’t go to these places to begin relationships for the sake of disciple making. Where do we go?

  • Well we go to community concerts in the fine arts arena. For us these are found in local churches, at the beach, in the local colleges and in public arenas. We have found that there is a community of people who attend these events and we have begun to develop some relationships within this community.
  • We volunteer at community events. This places us in touch with leaders in the community and with fellow citizens. This is a new avenue for us but it accomplishes several things. First, we are serving our community. Secondly, we are networking within the community.
  • We attend wine tastings – usually at the local grocery store. Some Christians find this offensive, but Karen and I have found some of our most promising young disciples at these events. Jesus was derisively accused of associating with wine drinkers but if you want to catch fish you must go where the fish are. We have been very successful in this arena.
  • We attend every social gathering we can at our condominium complex. We are working to know our neighbors and this is perhaps our most challenging field. But we have found other Christians here and we are praying together for our neighbors and seeking points of entrance into their lives.
  • We attend other social events with our new disciples as we integrate into their lives. We have been to New Years eve parties, graduations, back yard bar-b-ques to name a few. These events often open up whole new arenas of influence within the disciples sphere friends and family.
  • The disciples become guest at our home. We enjoy fellowship and meals together. Sometimes we have several unrelated guest in at a time.

All of this gives us the opportunity to share Jesus in both word and deed. This is what we do to reach out, develop relationships, and start making disciples. To show you how effective this is I could list some results. But that’s not my point. My point is this. In more than 25 years of pulpit ministry I never felt as fulfilled and fruitful as I do now. Most of those years were spent trying to make converts while I tried to keep a church together.  Now I make disciples who make disciples. All the while I am mentoring disciples, I’m making friends and enjoying life with them. My guess is that my latter years will be more fruitful than my former years. And my latter years well definitely be happier.

My challenge to you today: Seek out new ways of expanding your sphere of influence. Find ways of reaching into your community. Get to know your neighbors. As you do, remember you are leading everyone you meet to the Lord. You are making disciples everywhere you go. Some will stick with you for long periods of time while others will only vaguely remember the sweet scent of Jesus as you pass through their lives.

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