Read Colossians 1:28-29
Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
Were we called to “make disciples” or “make converts”?
We know that as Christians, we have been called to share the Gospel. We are expected to encourage people to repent from their sins and place their faith in Jesus Christ. So over the years, the church has tried different evangelism strategies. The altar call and door-to-door evangelism are examples of strategies the church has employed to share the Gospel and “win souls to Christ.”
In some ways, these strategies have been very successful. In fact, many believers testify that it was this type of experience that led them to publicly confess their faith in Christ and that it changed their entire lives for all eternity. Praise God for that!
We do have to be careful though that our focus is on making disciples and not just making converts. In those types of settings, it can be difficult to be able to follow up with people who decide to place their faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, some people make a commitment to follow Him but don’t know what to do next. They get up the next morning and continue to live their lives just as before because they have no one to walk alongside them. No one to help them grow in spiritual maturity.
In today’s verse, Paul said that God worked powerfully in him so that he was able to toil and give everything he had to “present everyone mature in Christ”. Yes, he wanted people to confess and repent. He wanted them to make a profession of faith in Jesus. But more than that, he strove to “teach everyone with all wisdom” so that they could grow in their faith and mature spiritually.
The reality is that Jesus did not call us to make converts. He called us to make disciples. “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 all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a). Disciples are people who are learning and being taught so that they can reach a level of maturity and understanding that enables them to go forward making their own disciples.
Friend, if you are a new believer, I encourage you to seek out someone to disciple you. We all need someone to walk alongside us as we learn and grow in our faith. Get plugged in to your local church community. Read Scripture with a more mature believer, attend a Bible study at your church, etc.
If you are someone who has been a Christian for a long time, I encourage you to consider how you are making disciples. How are you helping someone grow in their faith? Don’t let your fears of insufficiency keep you from fulfilling this command. As Paul pointed out, it is Christ’s energy that works in us to teach others. We have everything we need to lead.
God, I want to continue to strive for spiritual growth and maturity in my own faith but also to help others mature as well. Please give me Your energy and understanding so that I can effectively disciple the new believers you have placed in my life. Amen.