Oakley United Methodist Church
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Bringing Joy to God and Our Neighbors
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“Making Disciples” 

     Someone once asked me, “Why don’t we do an altar call?” I didn’t have a very good answer right off the top of my head – but I promised to get back to them as soon as I could. What follows is the longer version of the reasoning I provided to them, much of which is based on an article by a pastor named Jeff Clarke.

     First of all – it’s not biblical. There is no precedent in the Bible for this type of evangelism. Jesus did not call us to make converts, he called us to make disciples. Asking people to immediately make a decision, and spending little to no time helping them to become disciples is like telling someone only half a story – then leaving them to figure out the rest on their own.

     If we only tell people half of the story, we’ll end up with people who only want that half. In other words, they will want the sins forgiven and save me from hell part, but they will be less excited about the Kingdom building work that demands dedication and total allegiance to the call.

     When Jesus, "Follow me," it meant that there would be costs involved. "Follow me" is not a part-time job we work at for an hour or so on Sunday morning, it’s a full-time job that requires us to be in service to others.

     Yes, asking people to make a commitment to follow Jesus is an important part of the process. However, our calling extends beyond inviting them to take that first critical step and just convert, we are asking them to take many, many more steps in dedicating their entire lives to Christ and joining us in our quest of Kingdom building in this world.

     We don’t do an altar call because a weak invitation to follow Jesus will only create weak followers. We need to be busy in the continual process of discipleship that results in a lifetime of loving devotion to Christ and his Church, rather than  a short-lived, saved-from-our-sins, get-out-of-hell-free-card, system of salvation. 

     After all, Jesus never promised anyone a rose garden. In fact, he told us to expect quite the opposite—persecution, imprisonment, torture, even death. To promise people anything else is to set them up for failure. We are called to make disciples—not converts. 

 
Blessings, Peace, and Love, 

Pastor Vic