Posted by: sdunnpastor | January 21, 2012

EVANGELISM WITHOUT DISCIPLESHIP

Evangelism without Discipleship

February 28, 2011 — Tom Cocklereece, DMin, LBCT

 

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My readers know that I am passionate about disciple-making and it pains me when other Christian leaders accuse proponents of full discipleship of being less than zealous of penetrating lostness by saturation evangelism. I am just as zealous of evangelism as I am about the teaching part of the Great Commission. However, I am also against what I call “Constantinian evangelism” which is evangelism without discipleship. Allow me to explain.

CONSTANTINE’S CONVERSION TO CHRISTIANITY

Chi-Rho Symbol

In the spring of A.D. 311, Constantine and his force of about 40,000 troops marched toward Rome to confront the more numerous forces of Maxentius. In the evening Constantine saw a vision in the sky which was described as a bright cross with the words “By this sign conquer.” According to Constantine’s account, Jesus Christ told him in a dream to take the cross into battle as his standard. Constantine reportedly had his commander to mark every soldier’s shield with the Chi-Rho symbol- thought to be an early Christian sign identifying allegiance to Christ (Christianity Today).

CONSTANTINE SET THE STAGE FOR EVANGELISM WITHOUT DISCIPLESHIP

Constantine

Stories continue to circulate that Constantine supposedly marched his army through a river for a ritual mass conversion to Christianity or gave them a sprinkling baptism as they marched under a bridge. There is scant evidence that such a mass conversion event occurred. It is well documented in history that Constantine himself remained a superficial Christian at best during the rest of his life. The standard practice of that day for new converts to Christianity was a rigid discipleship course lasting up to three years followed by baptism. Constantine refused any such course of training and even refused baptism until he was close to death.

By his victory at the Milvian Bridge using the Chi-Rho symbol, many soldiers likely adopted the mark in a superstitious way. They accepted the symbol of Christianity while never seeking to really know the Savior Jesus Christ. Thus began what might be called “Constantinian evangelism” or evangelism without discipleship. Constantine may have instituted mass conversion of his military by the use of an indoctrination prayer:

Constantine’s Army Prayer
Emperor Constantine ca 320

We know Thou art God alone;
we recognize in Thee our king.
We call on Thee for aid.
From thee we receive victory,
through thee we are made greater than our enemies.

We recognize thy grace in present blessings
and hope on Thee for the future.
We all beseech Thee, we implore Thee
to preserve our king Constantine
and his pious sons safe and victorious to the end or our days.

Constantine’s Prayer

In A.D. 303 it was illegal for a soldier in the Roman army to be a Christian; by 416 it was mandatory for a soldier to be a Christian (Adventist Review). The possible use of a prayer for either mass conversion (which converts no no one) or represents compulsory religious conversion by the state should send chills down the spiritual spine of any evangelical Christian. However, it does raise the question for evangelicals: “Do we use what is known as “the sinner’s prayer” in a similar manner?

“Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.” The Sinner’s Prayer


Certainly evangelicals do not approve of or use the sinner’s prayer for state compulsory or mass conversion but the focus on evangelism and baptisms without an equal focus on discipleship raises concern.

INVESTING IN EVANGELISM FUTURES

Process Discipleship

I am not a proponent of a several year discipleship process before one is accepted as a genuine Christian. However, if only by default, many evangelical Christian leaders today may have unintentionally accepted a powerless form of Christianity—evangelism and conversion without discipleship, i.e. Constantinian evangelism. I am for all evangelistic efforts PLUS discipleship.

Discussions rage about the decline of evangelical churches and much of it centers on the need for more evangelism. However, undiscipled Christians are often poor evangelists. Consider that an original document is printed and then successive photo copies are made from copies of the original. Eventually the document will be unreadable. Undiscipled Christians may be like the illustration and fail to make new disciples. On the other hand, good discipleship of new Christians is an investment into future evangelism and real church growth.

Good discipleship of new Christians is an investment into future evangelism and real church growth.

It is time for the evangelical church to return to making disciples as the Great Commission commands—baptizing AND teaching. Church leaders should connect all discipleship ministries in an intentional process as well as cultivate a church culture where people are motivated to follow through in the growth process. The process must include missional opportunities that encourage hands-on ministry experience. Churches that do this are revitalizing their ability to do effective evangelism, as they create needed sustainability.

——————–

QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT

  1. When Jesus commands his church to make disciples, to what degree does the responsibility belong to the church and to what degree is it the individual Christian’s responsibility?
  2. Do you think that some evangelists use “the sinner’s prayer” as Constantine may have used “Constantine’s Army Prayer?”
  3. What process does your church use to make disciples?
  4. Does your church focus on evangelism without a viable plan for discipling new believers?
  5. Does your church take a passive laissez-faire approach to discipling new Christians?
  6. How may your church improve the discipleship process?

Simple Discipleship Blessings!

Dr. Tom Cocklereece, The Disciplist

The Simple Discipleship blog is read by Christian leaders in over 66 countries. Pray for this ministry as God has enlarged our territory!

________________________

Simple Discipleship: How to Make Disciples in the 21st Century was published and released by Church Smart Resources in November 2009. It is not a self-published book. To learn more about Simple Discipleship and to order the book, follow the link below:

http://www.simplediscipleship.com

——————–

Dr. Tom Cocklereece is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC

Author “Simple Discipleship,” contributing writer L2L Blogazine
He is a pastor, an author, professional coach, and leadership specialist

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Posted by: sdunnpastor | January 18, 2012

EVANGELISM IN THE SMALLER MEMBERSHIP CHURCH

The next School of Evangelism Class …

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Fairview Bethel Church of God

New Cumberland PA

Dave Anderson and Dan Masshardt are back with the 2012 version of last year’s most popular School of Evangelism Class. They will be sharing insights, philosophy, strategies and resources to help churches of 150 persons or less develop a meaningful and fruitful evangelistic ministry.

The class will meet from 8:30 am-3:30 pm in the Multipurpose Unit of the Church.  Cost is $25 per student, but as always, the class is free if this is your first in the School of Evangelism.  You should register no later than Feb. 1.  Payment can be made at the door.

Register by going to the Commission web site EVANGELISM PLUS and clicking on the link for registrations.  Or you may register on FACEBOOK by going to ERC EVANGELISM AND CHURCH PLANTING.

Posted by: sdunnpastor | January 15, 2012

TIME TO REGISTER FOR SATURDAY’S BRIDGEBUILDERS

Our first Bridgebuilders Seminar for 2012 is this Saturday, January 21, 2012 at the Mt. Pleasant Church of God near Dillsburg PA.  Tom Myers is the host pastor.  Dr. Steve Dunn is leading this one.  It is the last one he leads before going on sabbatical, so we encourage you to register.  We have additional ones scheduled March 31 and at the end of April, and will begin training our new seminar leaders.  Don’t miss this unique opportunity to experience Bridgebuilders with its creator.  Call 717-898-8144 to register  or on Facebook or go to the ERC Evangelism Website at www.ercevangelism.com .


 

Posted by: sdunnpastor | January 5, 2012

THE PROBLEM WITH EVANGELISM

THE PROBLEM WITH EVANGELISM

 by Stephen L Dunn

When the ERC decided to once again have a Commission on Evangelism, they commissioned me to be its first chair.  This was not the first time there had been such a commission. When I first entered the ministry in the early 70’s, there was such a commission but it was paired with Christian social concerns.  Like most two-headed anythings, once side gets more attention than the other. The old ECSC Commission tended to focus on social concerns – on community change instead of life change,.  I departed Pennsylvania for  almost 25 years into the Midwest–first working for the denomination, then as a pastor in Ohio and Indiana.  During that time I developed a passion for evangelism, especially as identified in 2 Corinthians 5 as the “ministry of reconciliation.”

It was there I discovered the resource Becoming a Contagious Christian and another idea, Servant Evangelism.  I taught my churches how to build redemptive relationships and perform acts of kindness in Jesus’ name to lay a pre-evangelism foundation.  The churches I served began to enjoy evangelism as they found tools and understandings, but most importantly, a passion for the lost.

In Pennsylvania I learned that there was often little passion for evangelism and hence little evangelism being carried out–except in attractional events like crusades and revivals, most of those attended by the already persuaded.   And the methods when used often centered simply around a confrontation for the purposes of eliciting a decision, rather than discipling for life change.

At the first Conference after our creation, we engaged in a little two question survey: It was distributed to the lay delegates, persons who had been in leadership sometimes for generations.  The two questions were: (1) do you personally engage in a ministry of evangelism and (2) if not, why not?

What do you think were the answers given to those questions?  Make a list, and then think a bit why each answer would be on such a list?  This will be part of our discussion in the class “What is the Gospel?”

This post was published earlier this week on DEEPER EVANGELISM the blog for the School of Evangelism as a discussion preparing the students for this weekend’s class “What is the Gospel?” More will follow.

Posted by: sdunnpastor | December 28, 2011

“What is the Gospel?”
Friday, January 6, 2012
Middletown Church of God
8:30 am-3:30 pm

– or –

Saturday, January 7, 2012
Green Village Church of God
8:30 am-3:30 pm

This is the foundational theology class for our School of Evangelism and is taught by Dr. Steve Dunn. This year we are offering it twice to accommodate our wide variety of students. The Gospel is power, but what is the gospel we preach and how does it impact our ministry of evangelism? This class focuses on the gospel as proclaimed by the apostles. It examines the biblical understanding of evangelism and its mandate, the process of conversion, the strategy used by the first century church. It also explores the ways in which the gospel has been replaced or diluted in the proclamation of the church today and what is needed to re-present that gospel in the 21st century.

Register at http://www.ercevangelism.com or by calling 717-898-8144

Posted by: sdunnpastor | December 28, 2011

THE ONE MINUTE APOLOGIST: INTOLERANCE

Posted by: sdunnpastor | December 28, 2011

FIRST SCHOOL OF EVANGELISM CLASS – WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?

This is the first theology offering of the 2012 Year for the School of Evangelism. Taught by Dr. Steve Dunn – it explores the biblical understanding of evangelism, the dynamics of conversion, the Gospel found in the Bible, contemporary counterfeits. We are trying an experiment by offering the class twice – once on Friday, January 6, 2012 at the Middletown Church of God and then on Saturday, January 7, 2012 at the Green Village Church of God.  Cost is $25 per person. Register by January 3 by clicking ATTENDING or going to the website EVANGLELISM PLUS and using the registration link. www.ercevangelism.com Classes each day run from 8.30-3.30.

Although we have advertised through conference mailings and on Facebook, registrations are coming in very slowly.  Because Steve will be on sabbatical beginning January 30, this may be your only opportunity to take this class in 2012.  Please register as soon as possible. You can also call 717-898-8144 to register.

A text will be provided in advance if you register promptly.  You can also go to the  blogsite of the School to read preparatory materials www.deepervangelism.blogspot.com .  Support our very important training school. The day will be worth your time.

Posted by: sdunnpastor | December 6, 2011

IS ONE LOST SOUL MORE VALUABLE THAN ANOTHER?

From blogger and scholar Melissa Cain Travis comes this reflection.  Check out her link

Is One Lost Soul More Valuable Than Another?

August 5, 2011 by Melissa

Over the past few years, I’ve had increasing numbers of friends and acquaintances becoming involved in foreign missions. I find great blessing in offering practical and prayerful support to their assignments; I greatly admire their obedience to God in answering the call to be fishers of men in poor, often dangerous areas of the world–places where false religion abounds and the death penalty for “infidels” is the harsh reality. The stories of men, women, and children being set free in salvation through Christ stirs my spirit with an otherworldly joy.

There is no doubt that missions activity requires preparation, hard work and financial backing. Missionaries are faced with learning a new language and culture so that they may not only survive, but be effective in their ministry. There is serious equipping that must be done, by the individual and by the church, if the people in these impoverished, spiritually-oppressed areas are to be reached. Why do churches and missionaries put forth such efforts in return for little to no practical benefit to themselves? Because the souls that come to a saving knowledge of Christ as a result are PRICELESS. Heaven rejoices over every single one. Jesus gave his followers a Great Commission to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth, making disciples in His name, and missionaries are carrying out this command.

I’ve thought about this a great deal in recent months, and it has occurred to me that churches are doing a great work in emphasizing the importance of foreign missions, motivating more laypersons to participate as they are called. But what I’ve come to realize is that there’s an entire mission field that is going unnoticed by many churches, or if it’s noticed, the church doesn’t know how to approach it.

I’m talking about the droves of agnostics and atheists American universities are cranking out year after year—many of whom identified themselves as Christians their freshman year.

When it comes to poor, third-world countries, meeting the basic needs of clean water, food, shelter, clothing, and education are incredible blessings that draw people to the Gospel. But when you have a whole demographic that is well-fed, designer-clothed, and highly educated, a radically different approach is needed.

It is deeply troubling to me that the church is not exhibiting the same concern for these souls that they exhibit for those in the foreign mission field.  When is the last time you noticed fundraising activity for an apologetics education endeavor at a local church or heard of a church staff bringing a professional apologist on board? Exactly what is the church community doing to reach out to the men and women of the community who believe the Bible to be nothing more than a collection of fables that have lost any integrity they might have had through thousands of years of copying and mis-translation? These are the same folks that believe morality is completely relative to the time, culture, and evolutionary era a person lives in, and even the definition of “person” is not absolute.

The standard response is, “Oh, we have to love them with a Christ-like love and let the Holy Spirit do the rest!” Okay, but love is an action word in Christianity. We can reach out to them with compassion and practical help in their times of emotional distress, for sure.

But what if more Christians did the hard work of preparation to be most effective in this mission field, outfitting themselves with the evidential arguments for the historical reliability of Scripture, the philosophical arguments against naturalism, and the scientific arguments for design detection in nature? What if more churches facilitated their studies? I’ve talked with individuals, some of whom are close friends of mine, that were drawn to Christianity through extensive intellectual discussion. In their cases, the Holy Spirit used the scholarly preparation of a believer to reach a lost soul for the Kingdom, just as he uses the hard work of foreign missionaries building medical clinics or digging water wells in poverty-stricken villages.

My question is, isn’t the soul of the arrogant atheist or stubborn agnostic every bit as valuable as the soul of the starving single mother in central Africa?

Our compassion naturally gravitates towards the latter–of COURSE it does. But how does Christ view these souls? They are equally precious in His sight. Think of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Yes, he reached out to the marginalized men and women; He called fishermen to follow Him; He defended the poor and lowly; but He also reached out to the “high and mighty.” He called wealthy tax collectors and members of the intellectual elite to follow Him. The Apostle Paul is a perfect example: a well-educated man with high ranking in society and a virulent disdain for Christians.  In a dramatic display of evidence for His divinity, Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus. We all know how that story played out.

If we have at our disposal the resources with which to arm ourselves with answers and evidences for the Christian Faith, shouldn’t we exploit those resources to the greatest extent possible? If the Holy Spirit can use this knowledge as a tool to reach a specific segment of our secular society, a segment that has a huge influence over public policy and education, by the way, why aren’t we doing more to make apologetics training available in the church? We must not let this mission field lay fallow.

Posted by: sdunnpastor | November 26, 2011

SCHOOL OF EVANGELISM 2012

The School of Evangelism is back for its fifth year with new courses, new core requirements, and some new formats.

Once again we will offer our one of our core theology courses WHAT IS THE GOSPEL. As an experiment we will be offering this one day class on a weekday and a Saturday. For several years now we have offered our classes on a Saturday to accommodate the bivocational pastors and lay persons who are part of the School. A number of our full-time pastors have indicated that Saturdays are difficult for them given the busyness of church schedules and the number of training events that are offered on Saturdays.

WHAT IS THE GOSPEL? will be taught on Friday, January 6th, 2012 and Saturday, January 7th. Both days go from 8.30 am-3.30 pm and the content is identical, so you can register for either day. The Friday class will be held near Harrisburg and the Saturday class in Cumberland County. We will publish the exact locations early next week.

Cost of the class is $25 and includes one text WHAT IS THE GOSPEL write by Dr. Steve Dunn, the course instructor. If this is your first class in the School, the Commission will waive the tuition and asks only that you pay the $5 textbook cost. There are also preparatory readings for the January class that can be accessed at our School of Evangelism blog DEEPER EVANGELISM.

You may register up until Tuesday, January 5, 2012 by going to the Commission’s web site EVANGELISM PLUS. We encourage you to pre-register and begin reading sometime in December to maximize the learning experience, however, you can take the class without doing the preparatory readings.

All School of Evangelism classes are open to pastors and lay persons from any denomination.  If you are interested in becoming a certified Evangelism Mentor for the ERC, this is one of the required courses to be completed.

Next week we will post a more detailed course description.  If there are sufficient students for both classes we will consider extending the option to other classes later in 2012.

For more details about the School of Evangelism, contact the School’s Director, Dr. Steve Dunn at 717-898-98144 or by email at sdunnpastor@coglandisville.org.

February will feature two classes:

EVANGELISM AND THE SMALL MEMBERSHIP CHURCH – Saturday, February 4, 2012 at the Fairview Bethel Church of God near New Cumberland. This was our second most popular class is 2011 and is again taught by Dan Masshardt and Dave Anderson.

CHURCH PLANTING 101 – Saturday, February 25, 2012. An elective taught by Chuck Frank.  It will be held at the ERC Offices in Harrisburg.

Posted by: sdunnpastor | November 17, 2011

WHY YOUNG CHRISTIANS ARE LEAVING THE CHURCH

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