Last week some friends and I were gathered around a frail woman who was possessed by evil spirits. The woman and her family had come from a rural village several hours away. They were desperate for help and wanted to turn from spirit worship. They decided to put their faith in Jesus.
The moment we laid hands on the demonized woman she let out a deep long growl. Her eyes rolled backed and she began to shake. There was nothing special about what we were doing. We simply copied Jesus and commanded the spirit to leave in His name. Thirty minutes later the woman threw up some nasty red gunk and came to. She blinked, recognized our faces and praised God. We spent the next hour telling her the Gospel story and teaching her how to pray.
Sounds like a success story right? The family said a prayer and made a decision to follow Christ, success…not quite. The next morning she fell back into her trance and was demonized again. The family continues to learn more about their new faith and the woman still struggles to walk in freedom.
Maybe you don’t know any people who are openly possessed by evil spirits but you do know many people who make decisions for Jesus and eventually fall away. You know young people who respond to alter calls but eventually fall back into sex, gangs, or drugs. You know couples that attend church but end up getting divorced and walking away from God. You know students who grow up in the faith but eventually get lost to humanism in the academia. You know many people who make commitments for God but are not actually disciples of Jesus.
The problem is not with people who lack commitment. The problem is with US – WE have no idea how to make disciples. It’s not enough for us to add members, make converts or count decisions. We must disciple people into obedience.
A disciple is someone who chooses to follow Jesus with their heart, mind and soul. How do we take someone who has lived their entire life in complete darkness to being completely transformed in their heart, mind and soul? We must invest our lives in them, walk with them in the faith and train them to obey. Easier said than done. Mostly because many of us are stuck in traditional church methods, Bible studies and programs that are not conducive to producing obedient disciples. We have settled for a consumer-based religious experience and do not know how to live a lifestyle of sacrificial obedience to Jesus. Discipleship success is passing on the heart, mind and soul of Jesus to others who are faithfully passing it on to others.
Here is one process that is simple, reproducible and proven to be highly effective in many contexts throughout the world. It is called Training for Trainers (T4T). Whether you are meeting with homeless people under a bridge, professionals at work, or a family in a rural Asian village, these principles can be applied to disciple people into obedience. I’ll talk more about these in detail in a later blog:
- Pastoral Care
- Loving Accountability
- Vision Casting
- New Lesson
- Pray & Send
The demon possessed woman and her family has only begun their faith journey. The seeds have been planted. They now need a simple and reproducible way to live out their faith and share it with others. The fruit of their faithfulness will sprout into a small community only if we are consistent in training them to obey. The next time you share the Gospel make it your aim to make disciples. Remember that it is a process in a long journey of investing your life in others.