Updated: Feb 27
Discipleship is the key to growing churches. I used to say “church planting” but I have changed my language to "church growing." We perceive mission work through the lens of western church planting rather than a biblical example of church growth. Churches are dynamic; a living organism. Without “Discipline” in Discipleship, there is no evangelism.
Many individuals in the church today are frightened by the “E” word: "evangelism." And they shouldn’t be. It doesn’t require seminary training; only a relationship with native and near-culture disciples. Sometimes when we read scripture we get this picture that people came into town, preached a great sermon, and then lots of people believed. Now, there are some instances where this happens. At Pentecost, Peter addresses those gathered and it happened that way. When he finished his message, many people were baptized for the taking away of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. There was an astonishing number that became disciples. More often, when the gospel is preached there are a few new disciples.
Look at Paul. When he spoke he didn’t have a massive response. In fact, his life was often threatened. The church grew little by little into a magnificent, powerful movement of people gathered together by relationships. Evangelism is always about the relationship. In Acts 11 ordinary, unnamed men from Cyprus and Cyrene began to speak with Greeks. This gave other disciples like Barnabas the ability to catch a greater vision of what could be, as Barnabas seized the opportunity and retrieved Paul for the Kingdom work. God uses individuals' spiritual gifts to build up the Church. We are different. So if you are the timid and quiet type, don’t be too concerned; He will use you insomuch as He will use you on His team! You very well could be the catalyst.
The church at Antioch was amazing: different races and nationalities melded together into a giving, ministering, caring, accepting, and sending body. It was in Antioch that the believers were first called "Christians" — in other words, “Little Christs.” For now on, whenever you hear the word “Christian” I encourage you to think “disciplined in the likeness of Christ.”
When we take on the likeness of Christ it will stretch our experience, build our faith, while growing relationships and churches!
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