How Not To Make Disciples, A True Story

I wonder what this year’s UCG theme for the GCE will be.

I was re-listening to last year’s sermon by UCG Robert Dick “Making Disciples – A Whole Church Effort”. He brought up how it is not enough to evangelize and get people into the door. Making disciples involves having a safe place for them to feel welcome and learn more.

The COG, or at least the organizations that splintered off of WCG, are mindful of Jn 6:44. You don’t win people over by beating them over the head. They truly do have to have their mind opened by God the Father first.

However, once it is opened, then what? The conservative view is that God will draw them to a magazine, a booklet or a telecast. However, what if God draws them to a coworker or colleague instead?

I will submit to you that the view of having a welcomed place to come and learn is not different than putting a colleague in someone’s path to point the way out to them.

True story: I recall that once a woman came to our services for the first time. She apparently had some dealings with the SDA Church, and the Sabbath was one of the draws. I was probably busy passing out tapes or something, and I came across the woman who was talking to a longtime member. I interrupted long enough to be introduced, to give out what I needed to give out, and the longtime member was going on about some doctrine. “Of course, that’s because of x” (don’t really remember what x was). “Oh,” the woman came back, “Do you believe in x?” The longtime member said, “Oh, you’ve haven’t heard of x yet! Let me tell you about …” I got the distinct impression the entire conversation was in that vein.

The woman to my knowledge never returned to our or any other congregation.

My point? Well, a little training goes a long way. You don’t just dump on people and expect them to be able to absorb it all at once. They will quickly reach the saturation point and quick soaking it up.

I want to make it clear that the longtime member meant well. However, how much practice did she really have in sharing her faith? How much was she even encouraged to do so? Or, was she told to pray, tithe and hand out booklets when asked a question? So, when a real opportunity came, the inevitable excitement in sharing the most important thing in her life took over.

We will not convert others, and I suppose that if God was really working with the visiting woman, then she will come around in due time. In the end, it will all work out. However, if we are really taking discipleship seriously, then we will be busy sowing seeds where they can be responsibly sown.

I want to combat a COG myth. You sometimes hear the quote, “Preach the Gospel at all times – if necessary, use words.” However, notice that it does not say “don’t use words” but rather “if necessary, use words.” Use words!

Jesus said for our lights to shine. The standard joke is usually that only a defective lamp makes noise. Was that His point, though? He said for our lights to shin. Why?

14Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

15Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16, King James Version)

Questions: How will they even know to praise God if you never use words? How does one hide his or her light? If it is only how we go about our daily business, then how can we hide it without sinning? What “good works” are they supposed to see?

I am reminded of the parable where the man hid the talent. He didn’t lose anything, so why was the Master angry? Is there a parallel between hiding a talent and hiding one’s light?

We are sowing seeds. It isn’t our decision what type of ground the seeds will fall upon. In fact, it isn’t our decision as to when, if ever, they will germinate. Perhaps it will be in this life, but perhaps it will be in the second resurrection.

Perhaps those same individuals will be standing in our group. Perhaps we will be the ones to teach them. Will they be angry because they remember how we acted with arrogance about “false Christianity” and “the truth” about the holy days? Or, will they be angry because we never ever told them anything at all? Or, will they be ashamed because they closed their eyes and ears to the truth which was spoken to them in love?

God always leaves a witness. Sometimes, the witness will be a king who will lead a nation into repentance. Sometimes, the witness will be a prophet who will be chased down by the unrepentant leaders in the land. Sometimes, the Witness will the Son of God Who was willing to give His life for our own. Usually, though, it will be the lowly and the ones without status in their society.

But, remember, a witness talks.


  1. This year's GCE theme already has been selected. January's United News reported it will be: "Go Into All the World."

    I'll let you take it from there. 🙂