Missionaries are taught a formula that is useful for making disciples and working toward “the harvest,” where Jesus calls us to work, making disciples. The formula begins with 1-P. 1-P stands for “presence.” This is the Great Commandment. To love and care for people is simply part of what it means to be a Christian. It is authentic Christianity. But it’s only the beginning of missionary work, and the mission formula. 1-P (“providing a cup of cold water,” “being the hands and feet of Christ,” “loving your neighbor as yourself”) is a wonderful way to develop genuine relationships. It opens the door for 2-P.
2-P stands for “proclamation.” When a person is receptive – when the time is right (harvesting a crop is always about timing) – disciple-making calls us to tell the story. It’s called witnessing, and it works best when we tell how God has worked in our own lives in the context of a genuine relationship. Most ministries of churches do this fairly well, especially Vacation Bible School, preschool, daycare, and sports programs like Upward Basketball (though I wish more Christians would follow the guidelines that Upward provides). 2-P is a natural setting to start the discipline of follow up and developing a relationship of discipling. This leads to the 3-P part of the formula.
3-P is “persuasion,” the long, hard, wonderful task similar to raising children. It’s relational modeling of all the aspects of the Christian life and all the wisdom and depth of biblical teaching. It is reproductive – like having children: you multiply yourself – as a Christian. This is the 20% that is missing in most churches. This is what changes 95% of the disciple-making of a church. Again, it is one-on-one ministry with another person. Disciples cannot be mass-produced. It takes an army to raise an army. But when it happens, over time, a momentum begins. It changes a church from an institution to a movement. Don’t you think that’s the way Christianity is supposed to be?
The formula is this: 1-P +2-P + 3-P = making disciples. If you aren’t willing to pursue this, then shut down that daycare. Close that preschool. Let someone else do the food pantry – someone who will help people eternally and feed their stomachs at the same time.
It’s a long process to change the culture of a church to make disciples, not just talk about it. It requires that leaders model it. It takes time to learn the Harvest Worldview, but it can happen. The disciples got it. The New Testament Church got it – then lost it…at least for most churches.
Do you have some of these ministries at your church? Are you playing church, or being church? Are you playing around the edges, or serious about the harvest? Are you fooling around, or raising children for the Kingdom family? Does this challenge you?
Read more in the July/August 2012 Church Doctor Report.
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