Thoughts on Making Disciples 8
Okay, so... although you're hesitant about making disciples, you've decided you're in. You know to begin with non-Christians, you've begun praying for some people and you have a ballpark idea of what it means to make a disciple: Lead some people to faith in Christ and help them to grow to maturity in him.
You're doing great... most people don't get this far. What's next is important because this is where most people get stuck.
If you're going to make disciples, you're going to have to do a couple things. This is where we jump.
Many of us will have to build good relationships with non-Christians in your lives. Over the years, I've had people take issue with what they call "relational evangelism" (I hate this term). When I suggest that we build good relationships with non-Christians, I'm not pushing a form of evangelism on the merit of its efficacy. The suggestion is pragmatic: Most people do not easily talk to strangers and casual acquaintances about Christ. For most, broaching the topic with family and trusted friends is a leap. I'm interested in getting all of us to take that leap... not only the gifted, enthusiastic outlier.
A practice that has helped me and Tara with building relationships is the practice of introducing and inviting. Introduce yourself to people and remember who they are. Invite people you're getting to know to a deeper connection. "Hey, I was thinking, we need to have you guys over for a dinner sometime." Or "Hey, a couple of us are heading to In-N-Out for lunch, want to join us?"
The second thing is to bring up the topic of faith. Aspire to be identified as the person in your circles who lovingly and with a yielding spirit brings up the topic of faith. I've told my son, he should be thus identified in his crew. Nothing wrong with being affectionately labeled the preacher. A couple tips:
1. Ask good questions. It helps to be genuinely curious about what makes your friend tic: "I was wondering, do you have a spiritual/religious background?" "You ever think about meaning of life, like why are we here?"
2. In wisdom, be genuine and honest. In the natural flow of conversation, share the truth of your life: "What did I do this weekend? I went to this thing with my church." "I'm learning that when I'm stressed, I turn to destructive coping stuff instead of asking God for help. I believe in God but I guess not really."
I think it's true that the world doesn't want to hear it. But it's not true that the world doesn't want to talk about it. Big difference. And I don't believe that these conversations are inherently awkward or that they will cost me favor or even worse, relationships. Really... how many people have stopped talking to you because you believe in Jesus? Engaged humbly and respectfully, most interactions with friends, family and neighbors have been rich and meaningful.
If you're going to make disciples, you'll have to jump. Build good relationships with people in your lives and learn to be conversant with them about the hope that lies within you.