Theme Two

Theme Two — Stages of Life

Every person we talk to is either Christian or non-Christian
Among the non-Christians, some are willing to talk about faith and some aren’t.
God can use you no matter which of these stages the person is in.

I surface the topic by an inter-active activity about the Great Commission verse. I illustrate the stages necessary for making disciples using a diagram: a horizontal line with a short vertical line at the half-way point. I draw conclusions from the diagram. I summarize by differentiating certain key terms.

Activity One: The Great Commission Verse.
I ask the class to recite Matthew 28:19 together with me.
I ask them to name all the verbs, then ask which is the main verb.
After they say “Go,” I explain that in the original Greek, the main verb is “disciple!”
The other verbs can be correctly translated with -ing, so the Great Commission is:
Make disciples, by going, by baptizing, by teaching.
We can be involved in the Great Commission in  some way each time we have a significant encounter with someone.
This is illustrated by the next diagram.

Activity Two: The Diagram
I tell them I will draw a Christian life.
I draw a long horizontal line, with a short vertical line at the midpoint.
The line to the left means “before” the person became a Christian, and the line to the right represents the continuing growth after someone is a Christian. The short line at the center represents when the Holy Spirit brings the person to become a Christian. The entire line represents the actions necessary to make disciples. In making disciples, God moves people along the diagram from left to right.

Interactive use of the diagram to illustrate different actions for different stages in life:
Do you know people who are not willing even to talk about the subject of faith? These would  be at the far left of the diagram. Are God’s hands tied with such a person? Is there nothing at all we can do if a person is unwilling to talk about faith? Write down the answers under the left-hand part of the line. Answers will probably include things like “make friends;” “pray for;” “care for.” I like to add two that do not usually surface: introducing the person to other Christians, and telling incidents in which you have seen God active in your life (because these happened to you, they are not threatening to the other person). It is not important whether all possible activities are surfaced; the purpose is just to illustrate that when a person is unwilling to talk about faith, we can make a personal connection with the hope that the discussion about faith will eventually present itself. When this discussion takes place, we have approached the center line.

Now ask about the right side. If a person hears the gospel, and the Holy Spirit makes him into a Christian, the person has now entered the right side of the diagram. What can we do with the person now, that we could not have done when the person was on the left side. Answers may include “pray with,” “join church,” “join Bible studies.”

Conclusions to draw from the diagram:
Everyone you encounter is somewhere on the diagram.
The complete process of discipling involves all three parts of the diagram.
I hope you have an opportunity to walk with someone from the left to the right.
Even when you do not have that opportunity, you can make a contribution to the person’s movement from left to right by a conversation appropriate to the person’s location on the line (or, no matter what stage the person is at).
I draw a diagonal line across the horizontal line, and call these encounters “crossing lives.”
Examples: in teaching Sunday School, you are crossing lives with a young Christian who is at stage 3. At a potluck, you are forming bonds with someone who is in stage one.
After the person arrives at the right-hand stage, the expectation is that the person will be involved in taking others through the three stages. (I refer to 2 Timothy 2:2).
You can learn to be better at having interplay with people at all three stages. This workshop focuses on the left-hand part, relationship building, and the central line, evangelism. 

Differentiate terms (final review activity):
Witness: Everything that people see you do. People at all stages of the line receive impressions from you. Your witness is to the entire line.
Evangelism: The message of Christ’s death and resurrection: the words mean good and message.
Gospel: Same meaning as evangelism.
Testimony: An event in your life which caused you to say “thank you Lord.” Could also be called a faith story. Testimony is something God did to you; evangelism is telling what Jesus did.
Discipling: Your part of God’s actions in bringing people to faith and fostering their growth in faith, which assumes you have gotten to know them. The entire line represents the disciple-making area of concern.

More on making friends


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