Recently we looked at the great job Healing on the Streets is doing of connecting with people and sharing the gospel. Thousands have come to faith in Coleraine, Northern Ireland.
Yet there’s a gap between conversions and people who are continuing as disciples. Once we start sharing the gospel, it’s a problem we face. A few thoughts about what to do. . .
1. Expect people to fall away
Jesus told the parable of the soils (Mark 4) because he knew through his own experience that many people encounter him, begin the journey and then turn back.
A dramatic healing will not guarantee that people will follow Jesus as disciples. Start reading one of the Gospels, you won’t be reading long before you find an example of a miracle followed by unbelief. Ten lepers healed on the street, only one returned to thank Jesus.
It’s not your fault.
2. Healing is not the endgame
Jesus healed because he had compassion on people. But healing doesn’t make a disciple. Only the gospel does that. The goal is disciples, not just healings.
3. Count baptisms not "conversions”
According to Jesus, you make disciples by baptising them and teaching them to obey everything he has commanded.
Today we’re not convinced that someone is a true follower of Jesus unless they have put their hand up or prayed a prayer. In the New Testament, they weren’t convinced until someone was baptised. Baptism always followed the decision to repent and believe.
4. Teach them to obey what Jesus has commanded
Stop trying to get someone to attend your church. Start teaching them to follow and obey what Jesus has commanded. Begin with a simple tool like the 7 Commands of Christ. Meet with them, preferably in their home with any friends and family they can muster.
Discipleship always leads to church. Attending church doesn’t always lead to discipleship.
5. Try healing in the home
Jesus always went looking for people of peace (Luke 10, 19) who welcomed he messenger and the message and linked them both to a relational community. Healing on the streets is a great way to get started. But if you’re not finding houses of peace, you may want to try offering to pray for people in their homes.
6. Tackle the problem with movement principles
We don’t start training by teaching principles. We start by teaching obedience to Christ’s command to make disciples. But once you’re out there doing just that, you will encounter obstacles. Sometimes more of the same won’t change things. You need to see the obstacle through movement eyes and apply principles under the leading of the Holy Spirit.
To deal with the obstacles in the context of the big picture learn from these two movement pioneers. I can also recommend What Jesus Started: Joining the Movement, Changing the World.
7. Get back to basics
When all else fails, why not read through the gospels and Acts multiple times as a team, while you’re praying and fasting for a breakthrough. Meet and share what you are learning from what Jesus did and what the risen Lord continued to do in Acts.