The Boomerang Effect of Evangelism
by Pastor Rod
Often I meet Christians who are in spiritual malaise, holding on to their faith but not advancing it much. Bible study has become a chore; prayer is a dry routine. The miracle of their own conversion, once recounted with great passion, is now a distant, fading memory. And going to church is — well, it’s something they just do. Mechanically and halfheartedly, these people trudge along through the drudgery of quarantined Christianity.
But when these lethargic believers break out of spiritual isolation and meet some spiritual seekers, something incredible starts to happen. As they experience the high-stakes conversations that tend to happen with unchurched people, they begin to notice a sort of inner renewal taking place. Areas long ignored suddenly come alive with fresh significance. In other words, there is a boomerang effect in doing evangelism, in growing other disciples we come alive with greater growth.
We can only go so deep with Jesus until we start yearning to reach out. When our life in him is healthy and vibrant, we not only ache to keep sinking our roots down deep in him, but also to stretch our branches out and extend his goodness to others.
But not only does going deep with Jesus soon lead us to reach out to others, but also reaching out sends us deeper with him. In other words, getting on board with Jesus’s mission to disciple people may be the very thing he uses to push through your spiritual slump and jumpstart our stalled sanctification.
Living on mission is not only an effect of God’s grace coming to us through the channels of his word, prayer, and fellowship, but it also becomes a means of his grace to us in the Christian life.
Disciple-making is the process in which a maturing believer invests himself, for a particular period of time, in one or just a few people, in order to help their growth in Jesus — including helping them also to invest in others who will invest in others. Such was the lion’s share of Jesus’s “public ministry” — from the time he called to only twelve, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19), until he sent them out, “Go, and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).
It’s not surprising that we typically think of disciple-making as one-sided. The “older,” more mature Christian is giving of their time and energy to intentionally invest in a younger seeker. The discipler’s own enjoyment of the means of grace in God’s word, prayer, and fellowship serves to fuel them spiritually for pouring out into others. However, disciple-making is the stuff of Christian fellowship, and every true believer, is indwelt by God’s Spirit and is a channel of God’s grace to another. That is who you are, but the question is are you allowing God to use you as a channel or do you resist the Holy Spirit in this. I challenge you to allow God to flow grace through by seeking out neighbors and strangers to bring them into a saving relationship with Jesus.
Good disciple making is always a two-way street. The “disciple” and the “discipler” are most fundamentally disciples of Jesus. And so, as Stephen Smallman says, “Our involvement in making disciples will be one of the most significant things we can do for our own growth as disciples” (The Walk, 211). It’s like any pursuit; we get it better as we teach it to others.
Making disciples is a great means of God’s ongoing grace in the life of the one doing the discipling. If you are wondering if preaching is not hitting you like before and whether bible study has become a rut for you then I believe it is time for you to go to the next step in you Christian growth, namely obeying Christ’s command to grow through reaching out, bringing people to Christ and making disciples. I challenge you to think about why you feel stuck in a rut in your spiritual life in bible study, preaching, prayer, maybe it is not that those things are not adequate, but maybe it is that you have reached a new level of growth that requires a new way of being nurtured by God. What an honor you have. God has indeed continued to bless you with the Holy Spirit and now he is looking to give you incentive in your growth by following in obeying his command to serve through reaching out to people who need to hear of the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.