Is our free stuff producing Disciples?

I had a conversation with a respected friend, David Miller (Southern Baptist Mission Board), via email not too long ago about the real message and purpose of the church. David gave me permission for me to share some of his thoughts:

“We, as missionaries, have won many folks around the world to free stuff: medical attention, food, friendship with a North American, etc. The American church has won many people to good childcare, snappy music, new buildings, thought provoking share groups, etc. John preached in an out of the way place, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” and had standing crowds that acted on their obedience to participate in an act (baptism) that marked them for life.

“Sure, you want to see a person come clean from an abusive … lifestyle, but it is only through accepting Christ and Him taking control of a person’s life.”

In his book The Prodigal Church, Jared Wilson stated, “Only the gospel goes deep enough to effect real heart change. Everything else is just behavior modification.” David continued by saying, “Tom, we have, many times, taught behavior modification through our churches and ministries!”

I completely concur. The evidence is everywhere around us. We have won many people to events and activities but not into an authentic, life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ.

One of the most important things that I have learned through serving the church in many nations in the “third” world is this: We don’t need “fluff and stuff” to turn people and entire regions to Jesus. We just need the message of the cross.

Let us remember Jesus’ words: “Go and make disciples…”  These words have never been more urgent than the days we live in today.

Next blog: The Greatest Concern


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