This was written by one of our Regional Directors, Carl Kresge:
SEND's vision is to see a global movement of Jesus followers who are making disciples among the unreached. We are all about discipleship. A question each of us should regularly ask ourselves is, “What am I doing, and what is my team doing, to help see that vision become a reality?”
We all in SEND have different roles and are involved in various ministry activities. But we must never forget that at the very heart of why we exist as an organization is Jesus’s commission to make disciples of all nations. He wants every one of us to be intentionally developing relationships with unbelievers and doing what we can to cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s work to move them toward Jesus. Our goal for all of our workers, whether you’re in a support role or in front-line evangelism and discipleship, is that you would have at least one person (hopefully more) that you are asking God to draw to Himself and thinking about how He might want you to be His hands and feet in the process.
We are busy people, and we are working among busy people. All of us, therefore, need to continually evaluate how we are spending our time and establish priorities/patterns which will help resist the tyranny of the urgent when it comes to our personal relationships in evangelism and discipleship. What steps are we taking that lead us (both as individuals and as teams) to be intentional in praying for specific individuals that God brings into our path and thinking about how we can work together with the Holy Spirit in moving them toward faith in Jesus and becoming a mature follower of Him?
When God prompts us to begin praying for and becoming intentional with a particular unbeliever, it is far better to bring our teammates into the process. Don't think of that new relationship as only your responsibility, only your focus. Ask one or more of your teammates to pray with you and think with you about how you can be a tool in God's hand to draw that person to Himself. Work collaboratively with your team to intentionally move people toward Christ.
In most cases, the Holy Spirit takes an unbeliever through several different levels in their journey toward Jesus. They may start as a mere acquaintance, then attend some common activities with you, then become a trusted friend. In the process, they may become open to discussing spiritual matters, then show an interest in studying the Bible, and finally, place their faith in Christ. If you sense that God is prompting you to become more intentional with a particular unbeliever, it is helpful to think about that that person moving through a step-by-step process toward becoming a follower of Jesus. An awareness of where that person is in their spiritual journey has at least two benefits: 1) it will help you prayerfully determine what might be most effective at helping them move to the next level and 2) you can celebrate when they move to a new level.
Once a person becomes a follower of Christ, there are also identifiable levels in the process of becoming more like Him. They may start with some signs of spiritual growth and obedience, followed by serving others, sharing the gospel, taking leadership responsibilities, and finally demonstrating a commitment to reproducing themselves in evangelism and discipleship. Some of these levels in a person’s spiritual journey may for some be more simultaneous than sequential; but they will be typically identifiable.
As we seek to make disciples, I would encourage you to shift in your thinking from a focus on the “product” (things like conversions, baptisms, churches planted, etc.) to the “process” of coming alongside people in their journey to and with Jesus. And then, celebrate as you watch God move people along that path!
Carl Kresge, November 2016