Aiming at Faithfulness

Here's Pastor Ed Gross in his book, Are You a Christian or a Disciple? on being more fruitful in our ways of outreach and evangelism

 

"My way [in the past] was pretty much as follows:

  • Try to manipulate every conversation so the plan of salvation was woven into as many of them as I could. I was always seeking the loophole to turn the conversation from what it was towards the gospel message.

  • Once we were there, I tried to pressure the person with as many arguments as I could to ‘turn or burn.’ The goal was to get them to believe and repent before we parted ways. Who knows, it might be their last chance—so I went into the conversations as I was trained—like a fireman into a burning house. Hell was and still is very real to me.
     
  • The goal was simple—Get them to pray some form of the sinner’s prayer and ask Jesus into their hearts. THAT was the expression of faith and repentance I was looking for.
     
  • If they prayed, and it seemed as though they were at least somewhat sincere, I assured them that they were saved and no one or nothing, could remove their possession of eternal life. Like your first birth, you are ‘born again’ only once.
     
  • Then I moved on to the next lost soul to do the same.

The problems with this way to reach the world for Christ are many, and my purpose is not to dissect them all. I thank God for those who were truly saved this way. But after decades of doing this and hundreds of sinners praying, I saw two undeniable things. First, not many whom I led to Christ this way stuck. They did not become lifelong followers of Jesus. Second, I could never get more than 10% of any church plant or established church I pastored to implement this approach as their normal and natural strategy for outreach. However hard I prayed and trained and tried. It just didn’t work well. And instead of accusing the people of being lukewarm or carnal or sell-outs, I eventually realized that I was never comfortable doing it like this either. This approach, however I would rationalize it, was not the way Jesus evangelized. It was not the way Love incarnate reached the lost. I and many others have found a better, more loving, more discerning and less rude way. A peaceful, less stressful way to reach to lost. The way of discipleship evangelism.”