In Part 1, I listed four critical disciple-making issues: biblical illiteracy, disciple-maker shortage, caring relationships with lost people, and care for each other. Having focused on the first two issues, in this post I will deal with caring relationships with lost people.
Jesus commanded us to make disciples of all nations. He told us how (Great Commission) and showed us how through his life and death (Romans 5:8).
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20, CSB
The life and teachings of Jesus are explanation and training exercises for our obedience as His disciples. In the Great Commission, He commands us to make disciples of all nations, and then he explains how: (1) baptize them–lead them to accept Jesus as Savior and (2) and teaching them to observe everything He commanded–follow Him as Lord.
Jesus Himself was baptized. He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus had compassion on them (Matthew 9:36). He humbled Himself to the point of death (Philippians 2:8). Jesus’ life and ministry are filled with parables and interactions that demonstrate that disciple-making begins with care for those in need of a relationship with God. Our care recognizes that He loved us first (1 John 4:19).
Critical Disciple-making: Care
When we say we care but fail to show it, we demonstrate that we are hypocrites. People can tell quickly whether we are faking our care or if we are caring for them as projects. Our care is to be agape (self-giving) in addition to phileo (brotherly). Our care is to be genuine.
Without love, we will be unlikely to care if they are saved. We will be unlikely to take time to share Christ. Without love, we will not choose to have conversation or build trust. We will not choose to spend time together or meet needs when discovered.
Care for Jesus comes first, but care for those without a relationship with Him comes next. Jesus loved us and them enough that He gave Himself for us (Ephesians 5:2). There are many practical ways to demonstrate our care and open up the relationship for opportunity to share the most important expression of our care (sharing Jesus with them). Consider some of these practical demonstrations:
- praying for and with them
- following up on a prayer request
- providing help
- meeting a need
- grieving with them
- celebrating special days
- listening to them or having conversation
- spending time together
- working together
- having fun together
- sharing a meal.
Critical Disciple-making: Outreach
You cannot separate care from outreach. The reason we reach out is because He cares and we care. But it is natural to extend that care even farther in these ways:
- praying for the salvation of our friends
- inviting our friends to class and/or worship
- inviting our friends to a class fellowship, project, or meal
- sharing our testimony
- talking about class, church, the Bible, and Jesus (for instance, sharing about Sunday’s lesson or sermon)
- caringly asking questions about our friends’ spiritual background
- sharing about the influence of the Lord on your decisions
- learning how to share a plan of salvation
- sharing a plan of salvation.
Develop relationships because you care. But don’t stop there. The ultimate expression of your care is to share Jesus.
What Is Your Next Step?
Remember that a Sunday School class or small group can be one of the most effective evangelistic groups that exists. Pastors tell me that 50-100% of lost people who attend a group accept Jesus as Savior and Lord within 12 months. Your caring outreach and your group can lead your lost and unconnected friends to Him. For whom are you praying? To whom are you reaching out in care? Care. Invite. Share. Make disciples.