I consider myself a Christian. I hope that most folks who know me would agree. Except for a few I’ve blasted on social media. I love Jesus. I give to Christian causes. I attend church. I have been a pastor. I do prison ministry. I listen to or watch at least one Christian teaching a day. I avoid occasions of sin. I post to my blog often, usually about Christian topics. These are all good things. Right? Somehow I don’t imagine Jesus greeting me with “Well done, good and faithful servant” and presenting me with a spreadsheet that records my tithes and offerings, blog posts, church attendance, etc. I don’t think He will smile and say, “No disciples, but I set the bar a bit too high with that one.” Wink. Wink.
My focus should be on what Jesus told me to do. He said to make disciples. I don’t know if I’ve ever done that. I have prayed with prisoners to “receive” Jesus. I have befriended and encouraged them. I can hope that some folks have read one of my blog posts and had their lives changed. Really? That’s the closest I can claim to “making disciples.”
Churches I have known are not generally designed to make disciples who make disciples. Their goal is to increase attendance. The preaching, the music, the facilities are all designed to meet this end. Attendees are encouraged to invite someone to church, not to make disciples. In fact, most church services are arranged to minimize contact between attendees. “Greet someone in the next three minutes, then we will get back to churching.”
We believe that the person in the pew isn’t knowledgeable enough, motivated enough, trained enough or good enough to make disciples. That’s, we believe, the job of the clergy. I am looking for that in scripture and, so far, haven’t found it.
The best summary of disciple-making I’ve heard is: Make a friend. Be a friend. Introduce a friend to Jesus. According to Facebook, I have 677 friends. I have 724 followers on Twitter. I had nearly a hundred of these wish me a happy birthday. These friends and followers see my blog posts, some may even read them. That’s not effective disciple-making.
Outside of social media, I don’t have a ton of friends and the ones I have already consider themselves to be Christians. If I went about town trying to be friendly, all three hundred pounds, beard and bald, I would probably be arrested or maced. The only places I go with people contact are churches or family gatherings. In public places, everyone is focused on their phones. They have no interest in those they are with, much less some old dude wanting to make a friend. I’ve lived in the same neighborhood for nearly thirty years and couldn’t name three of my neighbors. I spend most of the day with my best friend and wife, Rosemary. I know she already knows Jesus.
I have no idea how to make a friend. Suggestions would be appreciated.
I think I could handle the “Be a friend.” I find it easy with prisoners. I really care for them. Listen to them. Pray for them. I think there must be a lot of “free” men who would love a friend like that.
I would hope the “Introduce a Friend to Jesus” part would be the easiest. I would hope to be so joyful and peaceful in the presence of my friend that he/she would ask and want what I got.
I just need to learn how to Make a Friend. Any ideas. I’m 69 last week. Time is running out.