The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert E. Coleman
(Summary by Bill Glad)
Reproduction: He expected them to reproduce.
Jesus intended for the disciples to produce his likeness in and through the Church being gathered out of the world. Thus his ministry in the Spirit would be duplicated many-fold by his ministry in the lives of his disciples. Through them and others like them, it would continue to expand in an ever-enlarging circumference until the multitudes might know in some similar way the opportunity which they had known with the Master. By this strategy the conquest of the world was only a matter of time and their faithfulness to his plan. It did not matter how small the group was to start with, so long as they reproduced and taught their disciples to reproduce. A barren Christian is a contradiction. A tree is known by its fruit. Jesus called people to evaluate the product of their lives. This was the revelation of what they were.
The great commission of Christ to the Church summed it up in the command to “make disciples of every creature” (Matt 28:19). The disciples were to build people like themselves who were so constrained by the commission of Christ that they not only followed, but led others to follow his way. Leadership was the emphasis. The only hope for the world is for people to go to them with the Gospel of Salvation, and having won them to the Saviour, not to leave them, but to work with them faithfully, patiently, painstakingly, until they become fruitful Christians savouring the world about them with the Redeemer’s love. The test of any work of evangelism thus is not what is seen at the moment, or in the Conference Report, but in the effectiveness with which the work continues in the next generation.
The costly principles of leadership development and reproduction seem to have been submerged beneath the easier strategy of mass recruitment. When will we realize that evangelism is not done by something, but by someone? It is an expression of God’s love, and God is a Person. His nature, being personal, is only expressed through personality, first revealed fully in Christ, and now expressed through his Spirit in the lives of those yielded to Him.
Conclusion: The Master and your plan.
What is the plan of your life? Everyone has to live by some plan. The plan is the organizing principle around which the aim of life is carried out. We may not be conscious of a plan in every action, or even know that we have a plan, but nonetheless our actions invariably unfold some kind of a pattern at the centre of things. To regard Jesus’ plans as true means that they must be relevant. Every one of us then should be seeking some way to incorporate the wisdom of Jesus’ strategy into our own preferred method of evangelism.
The multitudes cannot know the Gospel unless they have a living witness. Merely giving them an explanation will not suffice. People must be our priority. We should not expect a great number to begin with, nor should we desire it. Better to give a year or so to one or two people who learn what it means to conquer for Christ than to spend a lifetime with a congregation just keeping the program going. The only realistic way to effect this is by being together. It is going to take time and consistency in meeting together to pray and study God’s word, and then to be moving out in obedience. It is not enough just to involve persons in some kind of group association, they must be given some way to express the things that they have learned; you need to expect something from them. All of this is going to require a lot of supervision, both in the personal development of these people, and in their work with others. The main thing is to keep them growing in peace and in knowledge. Help them carry their burdens, and let them carry on with the work of making disciples.
The crucial thing, of course, is their own spiritual experience. Nothing less than the infilling of the Spirit of Christ will be sufficient to meet the challenge. The price of victory is costly, and disappointment sure to come, but we are not primarily living for the present. Our satisfaction is in knowing that in generations to come our witness for Christ will still be bearing fruit through them in an ever-widening cycle of reproduction to the ends of the earth and unto the end of time.