Discipling Pre-Believers

– by Brett Johnson

It is easier to tally decisions for Jesus than measure the maturity of disciples. It is quicker to notch scalps than align the not-quite-reconciled. Whatever the reason, the focus on decisions (which we wrongly call “salvation”) has enfeebled the construct that one can disciple a pre-believer. We have heard, “Therefore, go into all the world and make Christians…”

Make disciples
Disciples don’t fall out of trees. One makes disciples. Having stated the blindingly obvious, I have worked with hundreds of Christian-owned businesses, and relatively few have deliberate processes for making disciples of employees. Fewer still disciple suppliers and customers. Is it that hard, or do we not understand what it means? Perhaps we are still stuck on the notion that one can only disciple someone who is already a follower of Jesus? What do you believe: can one disciple a pre-believer? 

Time is on your side
What does it take to make a disciple? First, time. Jesus spent three years sharing a backpack with His team. You have colleagues at your workplace with you for 40 or 50 hours a week – that’s 10 times as much time as they spend at church activities, if they do attend. Second, we need to live what we profess. “He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach…” – 1 Corinthians 4:17. Then, we need to teach them to work like Jesus, just as God did with Adam and Eve in the garden. If you are doing your job like Jesus, you can show others how to do the same. This bridges the gap between them and God. Not using your working hours to shape people for eternity is a waste of time. Making disciples only “works” when you love: remember, you cannot disciple what you do not love.

Work gets people in shape
Employing people is more than giving them a fair wage in exchange for their expertise; it is a platform to serve them by helping them discover and live out their life-purpose. This has many benefits. A recent Forbes article claimed people with purpose sleep better, live healthier, improve their memory, and live longer! Help people work and live on purpose. Connect the dots between their day job and eternity. Start with small habits, and move to the meaning of work. To disciple someone is to love them; the alternative is to leave them in their as-is messy state. An old Quaker saying says, “Work is love made visible.” I would add, “Discipling someone to work as designed is love made visible indeed.”

JOY! Magazine (October 2017)

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