Decisions and Discipleship

Craig Adams has been tweeting bits and pieces of books he has been reading on his Kindle. One of his recent tweets from Scot McKnight‘s book The King Jesus Gospel reminded me of something William J. Abraham writes about in his works on evangelism:

Most of evangelism today is obsessed with getting someone to make a decision; the apostles, however, were obsessed with making disciples. Those two words — decision and disciples — are behind this entire book. Evangelism that focuses on decisions short circuits and — yes, the word is appropriate — aborts the design of the gospel, while evangelism that aims at disciples slows down to offer the full gospel of Jesus and the apostles.

Enough people I respect have written this — and it rings true with my reading of the Bible — that I try to keep such thoughts in mind any time the idea of evangelism comes up in my own thoughts or conversations.

And yet, I want to be cautious here. We should not fall into the trap of setting decisions and discipleship against each other. (I am not arguing McKnight does that. I have not read his book.) Discipleship — at some point — requires a decision to follow Jesus. Throughout the Bible, God puts people to a decision.

What is true, though, is decision is not the end of discipleship. As Taylor Burton-Edwards wrote a while back, taking decision as the end-point leaves a lot of new born Christians trapped in infancy or leaves them abandoned to the elements of the world where they die of exposure.

Discipleship is much more than a decision, but each of us must decide whether we will receive the grace and follow the lead of the one who calls us.

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4 thoughts on “Decisions and Discipleship

  1. If all we work for is decision it is like taking a newborn and lying it on the bed/table and saying, “Okay baby, we’ve done our part, you’re born. Now live and thrive and grow.” Discipleship MUST follow the decision. That is one reason I am continuing to meet with the members of my confirmation class on a weekly basis – to help them grow as disciples. It is a matter of nurturing them. No doubt it is time consuming but it is all a part of what I am called to do – to make disciples.

  2. Yes. I think the problem is that decisions have been seen as the goal. But, the goals is “making disciples.” It appears that McKnight is saying that we need to change the message we are communicating so that discipleship will more naturally result.

  3. Provocative post. Love the two words “decision” and “discipleship” and simply remind readers and commenters that much authentic discipleship begins with a decision.

  4. Talbot is right on. It’s not either/or but both /and. Unfortunately we have forgotten this to a great extent.

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