“Rarely does our evangelism lead to deep changes in our neighborhoods and cities. I believe this is due to the fact that much of our evangelism is focused on making converts instead of disciples. There’s a big difference between a convert and a disciple. Making a convert is often a hit-and-run proposition. The goal in conversion, as it is typically understood, is to get someone to say, “I accept Jesus in my heart,” and to be baptized. Once that goal has been accomplished, we tend to move on to the next person, assuming that our job is done. This leads to a shallow and superficial understanding of what conversion is.
Though we may talk about life change and may preach a gospel that focuses on radical transformation, we often settle for redefining conversion to simply mean that someone has changed their religious views. That’s why I prefer to talk about making disciples. Making a disciple requires more than just getting a person to say certain words or to perform a religious ritual. It requires a deep conversion of the heart that ultimately turns one’s life upside down and sets him or her in an altogether different direction. Mere conversion is not the goal of evangelism; it is simply the starting point for the process of discipleship. Getting people to convert to Christianity is not the way to complete the Great Commission; conversion is simply the beginning of a lifelong process of change and transformation.”
“The message that the apostles preached demanded a specific response to the challenges of life. It would have been hypocritical to preach a gospel of love for God and for their neighbor, to teach about the life of Jesus, and not practice it as well.”
“I’d like to propose a new contest, similar to the contest between Elijah and the priest of Baal on Mount Carmel, between people of different religious views. But instead of a hostile confrontation involving sacrificial bulls, buckets of water, and fire from heaven, what if we challenged them to outdo us in love, service, and sacrifice? What if our primary witness to God was through sacrificial deeds of kindness instead of the righteous rhetoric that seems to dominate the discussion? If we were to begin our outreach with acts of love and service to our communities and neighborhoods and then move toward an explanation of our message, how much more effective might our evangelism be?”
“The gospel of the kingdom of God is the good news that God has established his rule and reign in all things.”
“If my gospel focus is exclusively on salvation, my focus tends to be on getting people to believe certain things. When a convert mouths the right belief statement, we think our work is done. They are saved because they have accepted the gospel and believed in Christ. But if my focus is on the gospel of the kingdom, I look at the Great Commission through a wider lens. My focus is still on sharing a message with someone to get a believing convert, but that no longer is my goal, my endgame. It becomes the starting point for a much larger mission, namely, to transform the individual and to reproduce transformation that brings change to an entire community.”
“The only way for disciples to cultivate a viral faith is for them to focus their efforts outside the church and learn to engage society.”