Why is Inviting People to Follow Jesus so Complicated?
When Jesus looked at the future disciple Matthew sitting in his tax collector’s booth (Matthew 9:9), he kept it pretty simple: “Follow me.” In our intelligence, we have complicated the process to include so many steps before we actually get to the “follow me” that the normal believer in Christ feels left out of the process. Leading people to Jesus has been treated as a professional vocation for too long, and it has led to apathetic and disenfranchised church goers. We must release this job of disciple recruitment back to the people, because pastors cannot be everywhere.
Perhaps the most practical way to begin this journey to de-complicate the process is who we are telling people to reach out to. Too often, I have been led to believe that I needed to focus all of my evangelism efforts on “cold calls” of people I have never met. What if we really taught our people to reach those they already know?
We’ve also made the process very intangible by emphasizing right living as the most appropriate form of telling the world about Jesus. This is not the model Jesus primarily relied on. He spoke. So, a second practical way to empower people to reach out is by encouraging them to tell stories. Tell their story. Tell the stories of the Bible. Connecting on a real, conversational level can change the game.
Matthew 9:37 reminds us that the people who need God are everywhere, but the “workers are few.” It’s time we released people to join in, and if the Holy Spirit is with us, we will see people do just what the disciple Matthew did: he “got up and followed him.”