Last week I posted an article on “making disciples” among unbelievers as opposed to the more traditional view of “doing discipleship” with a young believer. I concluded that both are valid and both are needed, but wondered if it is possible to do both at the same time. On Friday I discussed the matter of the most basic and simple part of discipleship which is reading and reflecting upon scripture. It is obvious to believers that every Christ Follower needs a steady diet of scripture, whether or not they are actually doing it. But could this also be key to “making disciples” among lost people? Two key verses come to mind.
In the parable of the soils, or the parable of the sower as it is sometimes called, Jesus tells a story about a farmer going out to sow seed, and when he explains the parable, he says this:
“The seed is the word of God.” — Luke 8:11
The seed is NOT good works like feeding the poor or digging wells for people without clean water (good things to do and even things we are commanded to do, but they are not the seed). The seed is not churches or even testimonies. The seed is just one thing. The seed is the Word of God. Peter says:
love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; — 1 Peter 1:22-23
Peter agrees with Jesus. The seed that produces new life is the word of God. If the Word of God is not planted in the soil, the seed hasn’t been planted. We often hear talk about “living the gospel” and the St. Francis quote about sharing the gospel and if necessary use words. That is kind of like saying, “Feed the poor, and if necessary use food.” These passages tell us that words are necessary. So the Word of God is one of the things that both unbelievers and believers need to either obtain eternal life or grow in they walk with God. That simplifies the issue of “making disciples” among the lost (Matt 28:19) while at the same time doing “discipleship” of believers. We can concentrate most of our efforts on this one thing. But how do we do that?
I recently came across a book by David Helm titled One to One Bible Reading a simple guide for every Christian that addresses this issue clearly. David gives a simple plan to read the Bible together with either another believer or an unbeliever and meet together once a week to discuss answers to some simple questions about the text. He calls the questions COMA questions, for Context, Observation, Meaning and Application. The questions are slightly different for each different Genre of scripture, but all the questions can be printed out on one page. For instance, the four categories of questions for the gospels and Acts consist of 14 questions. This isn’t about selling study guides to each book of the Bible. This is a simple system of reading and writing down answers to a fairly stock set of questions. The questions can be printed out from PDF files or even emailed.
Is this an effective way to do evangelism? I think it is. Consider this statistic from Ed Stetzer:
“…We asked a total of 1,000 twenty-something unchurched people; 900 American, 100 Canadian. And we compared them to a sample of 500 older unchurched (30 or above). … And what we found is that yes, there are negative views of the church, two-thirds saying the church is full of hypocrites, people who do one thing and say another. But there was also great openness that’s there. One of the questions that we asked them to agree or disagree with was: “I would be willing to study the Bible if a friend asked me to?” Among twenty-somethings, 61-percent said, “Yes.” Among their older counterparts of 30 and above, 42-percent said, “Yes.” That was a statistically significant difference saying there is something going on, there is an openness that’s there. So we’re seeing that as an opportunity that in the midst of some negative views of the church there is also some openness to the things of God.” —Ed Stetzer, The Albert Mohler Program, July 30, 2009
Here is what I love about this:
- It is about simply planting the seed of the Word of God. This is a Biblical form of evangelism.
- Anyone can do this. You don’t have to have any knowledge. You are not teaching anything.
- It doesn’t require expensive printed material. There is no curriculum.
- It is not offensive. You are not trying to convince anyone of something. You are just letting the Spirit work through His word.
You don’t need to buy the book to learn how to do this. Mattias Media has created an excellent web site with an online video course by the author as well as work sheets you can download. You can learn this for free.