MT2 – From Decisions to Disciples MT3

Missional Transformation is a process where believers align themselves (passions, desires, behaviors, habits) with the missionary purpose of Jesus.

Missional Transformation requires significant shifts in the way you participate with Christ and His kingdom.

SHIFT 2: From Decisions to Disciples

Many pastors and churches in America have placed an emphasis on the need for people to make a personal decision to become a Christian. Presentations of the gospel message and evangelistic sermons are geared toward leading a person to the point of making a decision to follow Christ. This decision is presented as a choice to accept Jesus as your Savior and the transaction is often completed by praying a prayer that verbally communicates this decision has been made. “I have decided to follow Jesus” has been sung across this nation by those who have made this most important choice.

Once a person decides to become a Christian, many churches offer discipleship programs and classes to help new converts understand more fully what it means to be a Christian. The curriculum is often used to help someone understand that they’ve made the right decision, as well as to understand the ramifications of that decision.

The Billy Graham Crusades have emphasized making a decision for Christ for over 50 years. Dr. Graham has faithfully presented the gospel and led untold numbers of people to make such a decision. This approach to evangelism in America has seen large numbers of conversions (decisions) over the past century. I praise God for those who have made genuine decisions – but unfortunately, many who have “prayed a prayer” have not fully surrendered to His leadership in their lives.

While Jesus often called me to follow Him (which obviously included a conscious decision to follow), His approach through His teaching and interaction with crowds did not focus on decisions but on discipleship. Jesus was a disciplemaker. That’s what He did. He started with non-disciples and invited them to follow Him. As they did, their lives were changed.

Jesus isn’t as interested in people making decisions as He is in making disciples. He made it clear after dying on the cross and rising from the dead that He wanted His disciples to become disciplemakers. Jesus was clear about this. He didn’t command them to lead people to decision or to pray a prayer, He commanded them to make disciples.

Missional Transformation isn’t about more decisions for Christ. It’s about more disciples of Christ. This is a necessary shift that must take place. It will have ramifications on the way we present the gospel, how new believers are encouraged in their new faith, and even on what gets counted on denominational statistical reports.

What if the focus of evangelistic activity shifted from leading someone to make a decision to leading someone to make disciples? What if the measure of our accomplishment didn’t focus on conversions but on everyone making disciplemakers? Who wouldn’t get excited about a church where everyone was engaged in Jesus’ mission by making disciples who make disciples

That’s what Missional Christianity is about! Decisions aren’t bad. Decisions aren’t wrong. People must repent of their sins and place their faith in Jesus and choose to follow Him and become disciplemakers.

Shifting your focus from making decisions to making disciples will increase the Church’s capacity to change your neighborhood, your community and your city!Is it your goal to lead people to make a decision for Christ or to make disciples of Christ?

How does this shift impact the way you share the gospel?

Author

Dave DeVries

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Dr. Dave DeVries is a coach, trainer, author and founder of Missional Challenge. He is passionate about coaching and training church planters and missional leaders. With 30+ years of church planting and leadership development experience, Dave brings his passion and encouragement to those he trains and coaches.
5 replies
  1. Bob Carder
    Bob Carder says:

    Dave – Homerun post. The way it changes is that it creates a movement that cannot be stopped! I long for that in America!

    I must live incarnationally everyday in every way to show the world who Jesus is! And, the Jesus we present is different than the Jesus many church members present. I am with you all the way. Keep fueling the mission!

    I am smiling all the way – for a job well done and written. :)

  2. ZooMuse
    ZooMuse says:

    Greetings, Dave. Did you know that England lost the Ashes to Australia yesterday? That’s an importnat point of info to start your week on!!!

    The “discipleship” model you discuss, where new believers enter into some sort of “discipleship” class, reflects the linear, programmatic mentality in our churches. Saddleback uses a baseball diamond to show how “growth” is supposed to come: first base, second, etc. We need to remove discipleship from program and enter it into the more global sphere of intimate relationships which are far from linear.

    Also, I agree with your view that non- (or not-yet) Christians can and should be discipled. As my friend Ross Rohde defines it, discipleship is helping a person make one step closer to Jesus. Btw, when did the Twelve become “Christians”?

    Finally, my only concern in your post is your reference to “making disciple makers.” As attractive as that sounds, it goes beyond the text, in my view. Jesus said, “Make disciples.” Also, even as you agreed that we should not view Christians in three campes” convert, disciple, worker, does not your use of “disciple maker” create yet another level of “super” Christian, i.e., now we have disciples and/or disciple makers. Thoughts?

  3. Bob Carder
    Bob Carder says:

    Zoomuse – the way Jesus always made disciples “until America and Europe messed it up” was for those disciples to reproduce. The greatest “most important” command of God is “Be fruitful and multiply” and the Great Commission is the grand culmination of that specific purpose of God for all of us.

    To think otherwise just gives people another excuse to keep on with the self-serving agenda of their hearts.

    I can prove that making disciple multipliers is blessed by God -we are seeing it in our first church in St. Louis. All are committed to living incarnationally in the world and all are experiencing things they have never experienced in their lives. We don’t know how many people we minister to because most if not all the ministry we engage is on the outside.

    Gathering as a church is important but it is far down the line from the purposes of the Great Commission.

    For whoever, we don’t have classes to make disciples – we have real life encounters and many growth opportunities to study and live the things Jesus taught and teaches us from His life and Word.

    You miss it when you elevate disciple multipliers to “super”. We have discovered that making disciples who are multipliers is easy and all believers can do it once they all strip away the group or class or human requirements to do so. There is no believer who cannot multiply if they will strip away the lie of satan we have spoken that they cannot. They can! We we are seeing them do it, all of them.

    We don’t have disciples and disciple makers. All who obey the Great Commission purposes are disciple multipliers who do not miss the reason they were created and commanded by God, “Be fruitful and multiply.”
    Just think of the ramificiations for the church of Jesus Christ if we will do what He has taught us to do. Every cell reproduces and every disciple better reproduce or end up being dull, selfish, , spiritually dying and I could go on.

    Think about it.

    MT2 equals “from decisions to disciples”
    MT3 must be “from disciples to disciple multiplying.

    At least disciple multiplying should be in the line as soon as people come to Christ…

  4. DaveDV
    DaveDV says:

    To me, disciplemaking is not a program – it’s a lifestyle. There may be helpful books, curriculum or resources, but it’s about investing in the life of another person as you seek to follow and obey Jesus.

    Rick – I like your question – “when did the 12 become Christians?” I think that there was a point after His death and resurrection where Jesus’ followers experienced the atonement of their sins based on the grace of God through faith alone in Jesus. At that point, they experienced “life transformation” and the free gift of “eternal life” and were adopted into the family of God. Most would probably conclude that it happened at Pentecost – and then only including the 11 of the 12 who remained faithful followers – plus a few thousand more who “were added that day.”
    But really, the question isn’t when they became Christians – but rather, “Did they first become Christians and then become disciples and then become disciplemakers?” I think the answer is clearly “NO.”
    To be a Christian is to be a follower of Jesus is to be a disciple – and obedient disciples are naturally disciplemakers!

    Someone recently challenged me that Jesus didn’t expect every Christian to be a disciplemaker. I couldn’t disagree strongly enough. Why?

    Because of what Jesus says in Matthew 28:19-20. He commands His disciples to make disciples and in making disciples, they are to baptize new disciples and teach new disciples to “observe all that I commanded you.” Unless I am mistaken, ALL includes the command in the previous verse to make disciples (v 19). Disciplemaking is every follower’s responsibility.

    Rick – do you really believe that I am going “beyond the text”? Let me know…

    Being a disciplemaker isn’t a higher or super level of being a Christian – it’s what Jesus expects of all His followers (in the 1st century and in the 21st century).

    Unfortunately, the consumerism of Americanized Christianity has reduced being a Christian to little more than church attendance. I applaud the efforts of so many Christians who are committed to disciplemaking and disciplemaking movements.

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