Earlier this week I read Alan Hirsh’s short e-book “Disciplism” (available for free download via Exponential). It’s a challenging little book that makes the case that we need to think about evangelism in terms of discipleship. I whole-heartedly agree with this premise and we are pursing this type of approach to sharing Jesus with others through our church family. In it he made this thought-provoking observation:
Ask yourself this question: When were the disciples of Jesus born again (regenerated by the Spirit)? Was it at the beginning of the Gospels? The middle? Or the end? I have never heard anyone suggest the beginning. And they are likely right not to. Some scholars would say it was towards the end in John 20:22 (where Jesus breathes the Spirit on them), and others say that it was likely at Pentecost (Acts 2). But I am not aware of any scholars who would assert that it all likely happened at the beginning or even in the middle!
-Alan Hirsh, Disciplism, p. 52
The 12 Disciples spent three years with Jesus and in the best case scenario they weren’t truly believing disciples until the end of that time period. It often takes a considerable amount of time for people learning Jesus before they truly become born again. This is oddly encouraging for me. It takes time for someone to truly become a disciple of Jesus. I don’t have to feel pressured to bring people to faith in a short amount of time. If people didn’t become born again disciples until spending nearly three years living with Jesus it’s probably crazy to think that I could do it in a fifteen minute conversation.
It’s also challenging. We need to invest time (lots of time) in others if we are to take our task of making disciples who make disciples seriously. We need to encourage one another to keep investing time with others and living out in word and deed what it looks like to follow Jesus. It’s not enough to just hang out. The disciples spent three years living with Jesus. If were just patiently waiting for people to become true disciples and not intentionally sharing Jesus we’re falling short. We need to live life together as disciples on a journey towards what God wants us to be and invite others to join us in following Jesus.
I hope I can continue to more faithfully purse this approach to sharing Jesus with others and I hope you will join me.
Your fellow disciple,