By David Pam McQuel
Throughout the life span of the church there has been a continues circle. Its been a rollercoaster. The church will be on fire, great revival and an overwhelming expansion will come. The quality of commitment skyrockets. The passion for the things of God will be unparalleled.
Then as the late Myles Munroe says, "the greatest enemy of success is success". The church flourishes, and her prosperity becomes her bane. Everyone relaxes and she begins to pat herself at the back and singing her praises.
Then management and administration takes centre stage and priority shifts from spreading the word to consolidation. Project Babel starts, and the church loses her call. Solidly, step by step, little by little we become at ease. Personal ambition, struggles for position, desire for fame and recognition come in and the spiritual life of the assembly is drained.
With the of the generation of the torchbearers, a new generation comes that had no experience with righteousness and a genuine touch of God. The light of God grows dimmer and we return to era of darkness where we yearn for a new revelation of the truth.
Then we wait for another move of God while the church is reduced to a social gathering and a religious building, the platform for dogma and philosophy.
Then a new generation rises praying for a move of God.
Solomon son of David wrote:
"What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time." Ecclesiastes 1:9, 10
Making a convert
A lot of effort has gone into making converts. Definitely, there is no church without converts. That is the beginning of everything in the kingdom.
Through the centuries, the church has played down resources, money and human lives to bring the gospel to those who need it. Hundreds of thousands of missionaries have crossed the seas from Europe, America, and recently from Asia and Africa. There was a time when missions was the best and most coveted career by youths.
My recent experience with the effort to win the lost was in November 1989, when the evangelist Reinhard Bonnke threw his phenomenal massive gospel crusades in Jos, North Central Nigeria. That's my native land and it was the biggest for Christ I had ever seen.
I was 18 years old and already in the ministry. I attended 5 of the six days. About 1.6million people gathered at the Polo Ground for six days. It remains in my memory the biggest effort for Christ in just a short time that I ever saw.
The intimidating crowd at his welcome, from Helping at the Airport to the Polo fields, was, the joyful carnival,the laughter, the celebrations, the beaming luminaries at the venue, planning and organizational web, the superimposing podium that was a prayer shelter for the 3,000 men and women that prayed for 24hours for almost 3 months. You couldn't miss the thousands of volunteers in angel-white uniforms.
The sound system was stunning, traveling within a 40km radius brought Christ to the whole city. The whole city was agog. Most people in Jos have never seen anything like it.
One person who stood out apart from Bonnke's staff was his interpreter for the second night, Rev. Musa Fomson, whom I had the privilege to serve under. That gave me privy to certain facts about the crusade.
The Christ for all Nation reported that they spent $23m from planning to finish. In doing some mathematics, they estimated that they spent $30 to make each convert. And on the average, years later, that was to be one of their small meetings.
A lot has gone into the gospel.
Making a disciple
Making of converts alone is a less profitable effort. It must be accompanied by a carefully planned effort to grow the new convert. Otherwise it will be like a fisherman catching fish and throwing them back into the sea.
Paul wrote to the Colossians by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he said:
"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6, 7
The continuity in the faith is more advantageous. We need to ensure that every single believer is established in the faith through disciples. A disciple is a follower who believes a teaching and actively live by it.
Many new believers never have the privilege to be discipled. From conversion they are merely brainwashed to just a church and be actively involved in her pet doctrines. New believers cannot grow through pet doctrines. It is the rooting and building up in the Word that guarantees not only an individual's continuity but also that of the church.
Grooming independent disciples:
The effort to sustain a continually vibrant church through generations can only be achieved by raising matured believers. Matured believers are weaned from breast milk. They can feed themselves from the truth. They are called sons of God and can be led by the Spirit of God.
Mere converts are like babies. They can be swayed by every pet doctrine. The are tender and obedient. That turns out both as an advantage and as a weakness.
Here are a few things that make a convert into a disciple:
1. Focus on Christ
Every new believe should focus on Jesus Christ who saved him by giving his life for him. This is the key thing in our life. Jesus is everything. He is the one who loves us. And our very lives should have as ultimate goal to do his will.
2. Consistency in His Word
The new believer should be consistent in listening to the word of God because it is only by it that we can grow.
3. Good company
A new convert should find a good company of people who share the same faith.
Here are a few things the local church should do:
1. Prioritize spiritual growth
The local church should focus on developing the spiritual lives of new believers. Sometimes we focus on making quick leaders and feeling positions. Moreover, the people we put in such positions still have not grasped the fundamentals of the faith.
2. Teach service
Jesus' last teaching was service. During the last supper, he tied a towel around his waist and washed their feet. Every new believer should understand this. And we should give them room to learn service from the scratch.
3. Develop compassion in believers
We are all products of the compassion and mercy of God. God had mercy on us and gives us what we don't deserve. We must show compassion to others.
4. Give room for people to err and help them rise above it.
This is one of the most important points. We need to love new believers and be firm. Let them have the freedom to make mistakes, for we have all made so many after we received Christ. We should insist that they live by Scripture daily.
Paul gave us a pattern in writing to Timothy, "You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others." 1Timothy 2:1-2. It must be a chain that never ends.
We have to break the circle of hot and cold, up and down.
With consistency, we will reproduce after our kind and the faith will be stronger and better, long after we are long gone.