People often come back from a “missions trip” to Africa and report thousands of decisions made. Unfortunately, they don’t stick around to see what happens after they get on the plane. Something is happening to all those “decisions” because the don’t seem to end up in life change or local churches.
The Great Commission is not only evangelism. It includes evangelism but the primary focus of the mandate is not preaching the gospel. According to Matthew 28:19-20, the primary result of the Great Commissions is that disciples are made. Obviously, salvation is a stepping stone to being a disciple and you can’t be one without a response to the gospel. But ultimately, the goal we are working toward is followers of Jesus. They must be doing “all things I have commanded” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Much of evangelism is focused on making a decision…. and a decision must be made. But evangelism that is only concerned about a raised hand as the goal can easily distort the gospel.
The gospel must be preached. People must respond but then there is the job of discipleship. Often churches report huge numbers of decisions yet the number of people attending their church is considerably fewer. Something is wrong.
Allen Haidian gives this as a definition of discipleship: “Discipling others is the process by which a Christian with a life worth emulating commits himself for an extended period of time to a few individuals who have been won to Christ to aid and guide their growth to maturity and equip them to reproduce themselves in a third spiritual generation.”
That definition fits far more closely with the Biblical mandate and practice than simply getting a decision.
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