This is by no means a hard and fast guide, and it is far more messy than this. There is no strict time limit, nor are the stages as clear as anything but mud! People will move forwards and backwards along the steps of coming to faith in Jesus. I wanted to help you though in perhaps seeing where you could be connecting with people. And make it clear as to how to make disciples. This isn’t the only idea out there, but I like it. And it’s one of the patterns in the Bible.
Basically the context to this is the bit where you have done the listening/serving part of fresh expressions and mission shaped ministry. But at some point you need to start broaching that faith issue…
There is a summary of these 4 steps of seeing come to faith in Jesus at the end of the article.
How to make disciples step 1: inspiration
That’s you inspiring others and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. No one can come to Jesus unless God the Father draws them. The Holy Spirit brings a person alive so that they can respond to the love that God has for them. But where do YOU start?
The Holy Spirit is already working in a person’s life, that’s what you must realise. But, as Paul says, if they don’t know that, then how can they respond? That’s your job. Pointing it out.
So how do you inspire? Not by telling them bible stories. Also, not by cramming loads and loads of information into a person. Or by having ‘significant arguments’.
To give a testimony, always have a reason for your faith
Paul says, always have a reason for your faith. So WHY do YOU believe in Jesus? What evidence is there in your life. You must have a ready answer.
And it must be true, now (or at least in the last few months) and relevant. You have heard probably that you need to tell your story. It’s not your LIFE story though. Well it might be…but not everyone has that amazing sinner to saint type story. Most people are pretty ordinary. Perhaps you feel like that?
So let me ask you, when was the last time something happened and you were sure it was God at work? Something as simple as finding some money you desperately needed…or perhaps a car park space at just the right moment?
If seeing God at work in your life doesn’t seem to happen to you, then here is a tip. Take risks. It seems to me that God only really is able to work when we let go and trust him. I guess its because he has given us a brain to use.
But the more we risk for him – maybe talking to a friend, or following on some sort of hunch that we need to say or do something important for God – the more he seems to act. The more He acts and we see unexpected results the more reason we have for our faith.
And the more reasons we have, the more we can talk about our faith as just life.
And you know what? When we do that we inspire people. They listen. People listen to the stories of other for one simple reason: we make sense of our own lives by listening to the stories of others, comparing them, and deciding how we fit. Do we agree or disagree? That kind of thing.
It might take many days, or weeks, months or even years telling someone these stories. The inspiration happens as you do the listening, loving and serving parts. But if you are serious then it’s never wasted. And coupled along side those moments when you can be a true friend and be there to help someone who has heard your stories, the magic seems to happen….
How to make disciples step 2: declaration
This is NOT someone saying that they want to be a Christian. That comes later.
This is a response to all that inspiration that came first. A person on the journey to faith recognises that Jesus is real. And that he is God’s son. And that he is interested in their life.
You can start to see it as over time a person’s language will start to change. Perhaps they will say how they are praying a bit…or if they do pray with you they will say something like ‘God, I hope’…. Its awesome to see.
You need to ask the Holy Spirit to help you to be sensitive to the moment, but when they do you ask them outright:
So, who do you say Jesus is?
Remember you are not looking for them to make a commitment or say ‘the sinners prayer’ (essentially accept they have done wrong, believe in Jesus the only way the truth and the life, and commit themselves to Jesus…oh and go and do it. Accept: Believe: Commit: Do …. ABCD.).
But they are ready for the next stage
How to make disciples step 3: explanation
Now it’s your turn again. You have to explain what it means to be a Christian. It might not happen overnight. It might be best going to an alpha course or Emmaus course together. Or something else. Or it could just be you and them exploring together. And it will take time. They will have questions, and you will answer them. Don’t worry, if you are a bone fide Christian then don’t worry what you will say, because the Holy Spirit will remind you! It helps though if you read your bible every day not to remember it, but rather how can the Holy Spirit remind you what to say if you have never heard it in the first place?
Ok…actually He does! But I have found it easier to have some Bible knowledge tucked away.
This is based on Jesus saying a person should count the cost, because once they have started they can’t look back. (I’ve shoved a couple of verses there together, but it works ok).
The important thing is that you let the person do the leading. And do some praying with them to. You are teaching them to be a disciple of Jesus.
In both the previous stages and this stage you are modelling what a disciple of Jesus is.
Often people ask the question, how do you teach someone to be a disciple? Paul answered it easily and we shouldn’t forget it.
Follow me, as I follow Christ.
You, for now, are the model of what a disciple looks like. So through word…as you read the bible together and you answer questions, and even ask questions of each other; and through your actions of modelling Jesus; you are making another disciple.
Hang on though….there isn’t anything about actually becoming a Christian yet!
How to make disciples step 4: revelation
This is the moment. Again, look for the signs. Is someone eagerly turning up to talk with you about Jesus. Try and get off the subject and they will drag it back on track. They are really starting to get it! It’s become a bit untrendy, but I think there is still a place for someone to actually make a commitment to God.
There are so many ways of approaching the subject. Imagine it’s a bit like asking someone if they would like to go out on a date. You aren’t sure whether they will say yes or no.
So you pluck up the courage. Maybe practice what to say. And in the end it seems to come out a bit clumsily. But the question is still asked. “Will you go out with me?”
Asking someone if they would like to become a Christian is just as nerve-wracking. You are risking a friendship. You are asking them to make a commitment….
Ok, so let’s break it down.
First, I’ve come across people who are relieved that they have been asked because no one thought to ask them. And so they say yes.
Second, if they reject you and your friendship, then its not you they are rejecting, its God. And He’s got broad shoulders
Thirdly, you MUST stay friends with them after, even if they say no. In fact make a commitment to keep being friends as intentionally as before.
The revelation is basically the moment when someone realises that they need Jesus in their life.
And you just say to them: would you like to ask Jesus to be in charge of your life?
And then you pray for them.
Oh….and you can explain it in terms of ABCD as well if you like
I came across this pattern originally in Luke 9
Lets look just at Peter.
He is part of the feeding of 5000, plus other miracles. He has been inspired by Jesus, even engaging in ministry. Then Jesus asks Peter who he thinks Jesus is (declaration). Then Jesus explains what is going to happen. And then they go up a mountain side where Peter has a revelation of who Jesus is.
You really can see when people are ready for the next part of the journey.
you might also be asking, why is declaring Jesus is son of God not the same thing? Well the demons knew who Jesus was and they weren’t Christians. Also, despite Peter’s declaration it too revelation up a mountainside to really hit home, and it needed the explanation before it to make sense. Sometimes things don’t go quite in this order, that’s the work of the Holy Spirit right there. And that’s fine!
There are some important points.
- You are a friend first. And you are a friend afterwards. You don’t make friends just so that you can make Christians. And you don’t stop being a friend if they say no. No could be for a whole bunch of reasons. You’d be amazed how many people want to become Christians but worry about the baggage of having to go to a boring church service. You might LOVE that church service, but the reality is that not everyone does.The reason for the many styles of church is because of taste more than anything else. I personally don’t like traditional church. Or even when lots of people are sitting listening to sermons. It’s because I have aspergers and crowds where I have to do what everyone else says make me stressed. Don’t let not liking an environment be a reason for someone not coming to faith. Perhaps you could meet where they feel comfortable…be a church of just two people?Or if they become a Christian in an Alpha course, why not just set up a brand new church straight out of that? They’ve already started coming afterall …so why not work out what it looks like? You can even call it a church plant or a fresh expression of church if you like.
- It’s far messier than I have described. Sometimes you might think someone is ready for the next stage and they aren’t. Sometimes the first step is immediate, then it takes months. Life happens and sometimes people slip back.
- This is God problem, not yours. I think too many people think that it is their responsibility to convert people. No, your responsibility is to tell them that the kingdom of heaven has come near. Remember Jesus and the 72? If they accepted the message then they were told the kingdom of heaven had come near. If they rejected it then they were told the kingdom of heaven had come near.
- Sharing the treasure IS your responsibility. Parable of the talents is all about that. You have a treasure. So are you going to put it to work or are you going to bury it?
What stops people from telling other people about Jesus is a fear what they will say. Taking this approach is not about some sort of special course, it’s about genuinely sharing life and Jesus along the way with others. If it is part of your personal story then it is really easy just to tell people ‘what happened today’. Look for glazed over eyes or whatever as an indication that they just aren’t listening. Apart from that, go for it!
Also, they know that their friend doesn’t want to go to church for some reason or other. Remember, it’s about coming to Jesus not coming to church. YOU are church when you meet together and talk about Jesus. Or don’t you know that wherever two or three gather together in his name he is there?
So what happens is the logic that if a person doesn’t want to go to church then they can’t be a Christian. Because a person who doesn’t go to church can’t hear the trained person (minister) saying things in the right way.
Hey…I was telling people about Jesus when I was 9 years old. And when I was a teenager. Think i was trained then? I didn’t even read my bible much.
I’ve written about this in other places concerning these stages but felt it needed spelling out to make it easy for me to reference.
So in summary, here are the 4 steps:
|1) Inspiration||Tell your inspiring real life as it happens God stories in the context of a great friendship and serving.||Move to stage 2 when they start to ask questions, or their language begins to change when you talk|
|2) Declaration||Who do you say that I am? Ask directly: so, who do you think Jesus is?||Move to stage 3 when they answer along the lines of ‘son of God’. Don’t expect ‘he is my Lord and saviour and I want to know him more!’ But if you do…awesome!|
|3) Explanation||Explain who Jesus is to you. Explain what it means to be a Christian. Remember: follow me as I follow Christ.||Move to stage 4 when the person is excited to talk to you about Jesus, maybe has begun to pray.|
|4) Revelation||They discover how awesome Jesus is, and discover that they want to serve him and dedicate their lives to him||Rejoice…!!!!!|
*all images on this post are mine. I am an illustrator of books. #nuffsaid