Making Disciples - Part 6

What characteristics should we look for in tools we choose? (continued) (part 6)


Randy Pope

President of Life on Life Ministries



In our previous video, I talked about how the changes have been so immense from when I grew up in a small town versus the things you find, particularly religiously and spiritually, with people these many years later in a place like Atlanta. I talked about how I met secularists and humanists and so forth that were asking all these different questions than I’d ever heard.

And so, you got to believe, as we continue talking about the characteristics of effective tools, that the tools are going to have to change just as the needs of the people do. With that, I think it’s very important that we continue talking about these characteristics.

What are those characteristics of tools that meet people where they are today? I’ll call them culturally relevant tools. In the last video we started with the first of four characteristics. I said it was the most important, and certainly it is. God has to do the converting using his tool, the Bible. And so, we need to find tools that work with that and see and believe that as the case. Therefore, it marries to how we’re going about trying to be disciple makers.

The second characteristic is this: We’ve got to make sure that we are finding the tools that go along with the thought that we can no longer use single appointment presentations.

We need tools that work to facilitate multiple appointment conversations. People want to be in conversations. They don’t want to be an audience to hear a presentation. In the past, that was the case. The idea of, you remember, a Barney five with one bullet. Well, that would work. People would say, “Well, I already agree with all that.”

We just had to say, “Hey, don’t you think you’re interested. Would you like to…” and you invite them into following Jesus.

No longer the case. There’s got to be multiple appointment conversations so that we can deal with the questions that they are asking not just what we are wanting to say.

The third important characteristic of a tool is that we have to create forums where we address the questions that nonbelievers are asking. And again, those questions are different today than they were in the past. As I’ve been meeting with nonbelievers for years, it’s been my experience over and over that there are basically four major questions that don’t change.

Now, it used to be that the answer to those questions, about what Christians believe, would be, “Yeah, that’s what I’ve always heard, and I believe.”

Whereas today, those same questions they’re saying, “Ah, I don’t know that I do believe.” But whether it be then or now, in reality, they don’t really have the answers as something they truly understand. So, we have to address these questions. The first one is this: How can we Christians believe that the Bible is God’s word and it’s without error? People say, “Man, you have to be shelving your brain to believe that. How could you believe it?”

The second important question is this: How can you Christians believe that all people, including morally religious people outside of Christianity, deserve to be separated from God? I mean, for all eternity. They listen to that, and they say, “I can’t imagine how you could believe that” we’ve got to be able to give an answer.

The third question is this: Of all the religious leaders of the world, how do you Christians believe that this one person, Jesus, is the one and only way to God.

And then, if they find merit in the first three questions as to what the Christian faith believes, then they will want to know the answer to this fourth question: What does Jesus say is required to have eternal life? Now, of course, there are other questions, but I’m telling you, those are the four major ones. It doesn’t take long meeting with people to see. You’ll see it’s the same few questions that just kind of come up, and they’re not a whole lot of other questions.

And that leads to the fourth and final characteristic that I will address. We have to have tools that respect what I think are the two greatest desires that non-Christians have. One is brevity and the other is privacy. Regarding brevity, they don’t want us to say, “Okay, you’ve got to research, and you got to go to the libraries and read book after book and so forth.”

They go, “No, I’m not going to do that.”

They want something brief. And that’s why years ago it hit me. In college, I’d be in a literature class or something, they’d say, “Okay, everybody’s got to read war and peace in the next few weeks. And I go, “Oh my goodness. I know what a long book that is.”

And so, what do I do? I make it down to the bookstore as quickly as I can to find out if there are any cliff notes? Are there any cliff notes left? Because man, they were valuable. Maybe the younger generation thinks of it as spark notes today, the newer revision of that. Whatever the case. They’re very, very brief booklets rather than the book. You read a booklet, and it’s so brief that you can read it in a short time, and you get 90% of the data that you need for maybe 10% of the time. And that to me was a great deal.

And that’s the way people feel. They’d love to investigate, but they’re not going to go through all of this incredible amount of content and length of time to do so. That’s why we made the Life Issue booklets. There are four of them that we can take one week a piece. Let people take it, read it, and get the essence to the answers that the Christian should be able to give to non-believers. That way we don’t even have to say the answer. We just need to understand the answer and then interact with them if they have questions. So brevity, that is the first thing they are looking for.

The second, privacy, is because I know I don’t want somebody preaching at me and trying to push me over to a collusion and get me to make a decision or pray a prayer. No, no, no. I don’t want that. Let me go to the privacy of my home or my office and let me read the data that you’ve given to me. And then, if I found that data valuable, I’d like to meet again. And if I have questions, I’m glad that I’ve got someone that I can meet with and be able to say, “Hey, how can you believe this? And what do you mean by that?” I would want to be able to have conversations that can help me come to the place where I can say, “Ah, now I begin to understand the Christian faith.”

Please keep this in mind. You remember how we talked about how God does the converting using his tool, the Bible? God has got to do it, He’s got to open the hearts, but the beauty of doing this is that it keeps them continuously thinking, “Yeah, maybe there could be something to this.” And that constant exposure to God’s word and constant exposure to God’s people happens week after week after week. The Bible becomes that sword, that pricks that heart and often opens that heart to newness of life.

So, brevity and privacy. I tell you, those two, you put those together and they go a long way to create an attractive forum to address the questions non-believers have.

In our final video, I’m going to address a question that is a very practical and important one. How do you know when is the right time? I’ve got a friend, but when do I bring up spiritual things in conversation. When do I come to the place that I could even invite them into an investigation of Christianity?

And so, in our final video, we’ll address that very, very important question.


If you would rather read this series, you can download the Making and Training disciples booklets here.