In April of 1855, a Sunday School teacher decided to visit a member of his class. Apparently, this was his practice–going beyond the “telling” and instead, reaching out to build a relationship.
He entered the shoe store that day and went to the back room where his pupil was wrapping up shoes and putting them on the shelves. Placing his hand on the young man’s shoulder, he interrupted him and shared Christ with him. He told him how much God loved him. Not long after the encounter, the boy gave his heart to Jesus.
Many of you probably don’t recognize the name of the Sunday School teacher, Edward Kimball, but that day he led Dwight L Moody to our Lord. Some say this started a chain reaction that may have even led to the conversion of Billy Graham.
I can’t think of a better way to illustrate the ripple effect of discipleship.
The Great Commission statement in Matthew 28 holds four powerful commands:
- Make disciples
Wherever you go carry the message of Christ with you. It doesn’t have to be a land far away. Find disciples at work, church, school, your neighborhood or your family. The paths you cross and people you meet are not always coincidental.
Don’t make church members, converts, fans, Bible experts, good people, believing “dead ends”, etc. Make disciples–committed followers who will keep the cycle going. People devoted and sold out to Christ. Folks who will invest in the spiritual lives of others.
Although I don’t believe baptism saves you, back then it signified true devotion. It was both a visible and a dangerous way to publicly make known one’s faith in an environment that was hostile to it. By discipling others we test this commitment and hopefully strengthen it.
Teach is a stronger word than tell. Teaching helps the new believer become engaged with his/her Christian walk. Good teachers want their students to apply God’s truths to their lives–not just know stuff. All great teaching results in change.
Edward Kimball was obviously no stranger to these principles. How about you? How are you engaged in discipleship, and how do you see this working in your church?