In my gun cabinet rests an old Ithaca double-barreled shotgun. It belonged to my grandfather (we called him Gran Gran), and one day, my uncle passed it down to me. It’s not in mint condition, but I’ve been told it’s worth some money. However, I don’t plan to sell it. I will gladly pass it on to my son.
Over the years, I’ve taught my boy a love for guns, how to properly handle them and to respect them. We’ve loved shooting and hunting with these great inventions or some call toys. I’ve shown him the Ithaca shotgun, and we’ve already had the discussion that I want him to pass it on to his son, daughter or nephew/niece. And it would need to be someone in the family whom he could trust. I have many other guns, but I haven’t given him similar instructions for those. He can keep those or sell them. That’s out of my control.
Why am I sharing this story? I believe it creates something of an analogy with respect to evangelism and discipleship (and you have to use both barrels). We will all be able to share our faith and live out our Christian lives before hundreds, maybe thousands of people. That’s what I like to call evangelism. It’s more about telling and sharing the things of God with those around us. And particularly, the Gospel message. We should all be doing this, every opportunity we get.
We’ve seen myriads of people walk the aisle at Billy Graham crusades, responding to the great evangelistic message he spoke. I was one of those aisle walkers. However, we cannot be sure how all those people will progress after they’ve said the prayer and left the stadium–or the church parking lot. Kind of like all my other guns besides that Ithaca shotgun. I don’t know where they’ll end up or who will own them one day. Will they be used, cared for, neglected?
Here is where evangelism and discipleship contrast: Most hear the word discipleship and think it just means a way to take someone deeper in their faith–the follow-up to evangelism. This is true. We all need to grow and become devoted, Spirit-led, students of the Bible. But discipling someone also involves empowering and teaching a person to disciple others.
There is plenty of great “education” going on in the church. I’m all for this and a faithful student myself, but what good is it if we don’t turn around and invest that knowledge in a few people God sends our way? Through the Spirit, we can show others how to apply God’s teachings to specific issues in life. We can be there to support them and help them mature in their faith. And we can show them how to pass the torch.
So who are your Ithaca double-barreled shotguns? Who does God want you to specifically focus on the rest of your life? Maybe it’s your kids, a spouse, your small group, next door neighbor, a person you meet periodically one-on-one. Note: I’m not saying you do this with everyone God brings into your life–just a few. And you will probably do this over your lifetime. This is the model Jesus left us.
One of my discipleship efforts is this blog. I want to encourage and empower you to make more disciples who will make more disciples. So, in the next couple of posts, I want to share some ways to disciple others, and I’d like to hear how you do this.
Who in your life are you teaching and discipling for Christ?