Make Disciples Not Converts

One thing you're unlikely to find during a service at Rainmakers is the traditional "salvation message". We don't believe in the standardized altar call that is the hallmark most people's Christian experience. For one, that is not the means of evangelism depicted for us by the early church. But more than that, we're not in the business of selling fire insurance.

When the Gospel message is diluted down to the bullet points of man's sin nature, Jesus sacrifice, and a sinner's prayer repeated after the pastor with heads bowed and eyes closed – all for the express purpose of a ticket to heaven so that eternity isn't spent in hell – many of the most important facets of Jesus' gospel are left on the cutting room floor. Jesus didn't say repent of your sins so you can go to heaven when you die. He said repent because the Kingdom is now. The differences between these two methodologies are staggering.

In the first, our destination is heaven, a location we were never created to exist in, the realm of the Father, where Jesus resides only while He's busily preparing a place for us. Despite all the religious clichés, our destinies are about a lot more than a toga, a harp, and a little bit of cloud nine real estate to call our own.

In the second, our destination is citizenship within the now invisible Kingdom of God, the throne of which Jesus will rule from earth not heaven. Jesus' throne is the throne of King David, at least that's what the angel Gabriel told Mary. His Kingdom will be that of this realm, ruled as the first born of a new breed of humanity – the redeemed. His capital city will one day descend from its heavenly construction yard onto a new earth. His purpose is to forever unite the spiritual realm of His eternal Father with that of the natural realm of great great granddad Adam. That's why He taught us to pray, "Your kingdom come" in the first place. All true disciples are seeking that kingdom first above all else, expectantly awaiting its physical manifestation in our natural reality at the end of this age.

But more than that, the first (traditional) approach is future tense. It's all about someday in the sweet bye and bye. For many, this leaves the all important understandings of Biblical transformation through Grace unexplained, and the ministries of death and condemnation via the Law ready and willing to fill the void. Meanwhile, the Kingdom being "now" implies our destiny is present tense. There are things for us to do this very moment, down on the ground while we're still around. This paradigm means we can't afford to have an escapist mentality towards the world around us. Yes one day Jesus is going to split the sky and set all things right, but until then we've got the job of preservation and revelation to do. That's why He called us "salt" and "light".

Making a convert to Christianity is easy. Walk to the altar, say a prayer. Tada! Believer. But many people who have a salvation experience in church walk away not understanding the Kingdom mechanics of what has actually transpired on the inside of them, let alone how to effectively move forward from salvation into transformation through faith bringing revelation of the Word. They don't know they are a three part being. They don't know which part of them died thanks to sin. They don't know which part was born again upon confession of belief in Christ. They have no clue the process by which supernatural reality begins to supersede temporal circumstances, and so the church as a whole slides into religious irrelevancy.

Making a disciple of Christ is hard. Jesus never said He wanted people to claim His sacrifice just to go to heaven. He said those who believed on Him would be saved, but it's not enough to just say we believe. Jesus said there was a cost, and that we better be willing to pay it if we're to follow Him. In John 8:31, Jesus said to a group of Jews that believed in Him, they were His disciples if they chose to abide in His Word. That means there are those that believe but aren't disciples. Disciples are the ones who believe AND count the cost. This doesn't mean they are believers who also get all the do's and don'ts right. If that were the case, Peter never would have qualified.

The cost of discipleship is knowing the Word, understanding its principles and precepts, and living one-hundred percent committed to the Gospel of Grace. In other words, walking in Him the same way we received Him. Only when we live and move and have our being inside the rightly divided Word of God, can we live up to the responsibilities of the great commission to preach the Gospel, heal the sick, cast out demons, and make disciples.

This may sound harsh, but God would rather have one true disciple than one thousand believers with a ticket to heaven but no understanding of their power, authority, and responsibility on earth. Disciples make disciples. Converts, by and large, are sterile. Disciples live out their destiny as defined by the Master. Converts take the name but not the nature because no one ever explained how. Disciples live on active, powerful, progressive, experiential knowledge of God. Converts subsist on regurgitated revelation and excrete religion because all they know is hand-me-down tradition. Discipleship is messy. It means getting our hands dirty and dealing with imperfect people through scriptural doctrine, correction, repoof, and instruction in righteousness. Converts are clean. No follow up necessary, all they need is a track and a coffee cup with the church logo on it.

We take the great commission seriously. The difference between converts and disciples is apples and oranges. We believe the Farmer who owns the field will be expecting the right crop for the seed He gave us to sow.