I don’t want to undervalue the necessity of people making a “decision” to follow Jesus as Lord, but I think it’s somewhat true that there’s a prevalent ideology at work in many churches that simply wants to get someone to “make a profession” or raise their hand as an indication that they want to “get saved.” I’ve been in churches that specifically emphasized that very thing. I’ve also participated in evangelistic “crusades” that tended to lean in the direction of simply getting people to do something to inform the event planners of “success.” So while I’m not downplaying the very real choices that people make regarding their relationship with God through Christ, I want to see a greater emphasis on the aspect of disciple-making. I want to see people committed to the process of living out the implications of the gospel. This is why I love Jason Meyer’s quote here:
“It is indeed a sad reality when the church of Jesus Christ under the new covenant looks and lives too much like the people of Israel under the old covenant. But this problem does not reveal any weakness of the new covenant. Much of the blame should squarely rest on evangelistic practices and membership policies and procedures, not the new covenant. Too many churches put too much emphasis on “getting decisions” and not enough emphasis on “making disciples.” The emphasis evident in the Great Commission clearly stresses discipleship: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19). Stress is also placed on the empowering presence of Christ to make discipleship a reality: Christ has all authority (Matt 28:18) and believers enjoy His presence (Matt 28:20).” (The End of the Law).
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.
You have no idea how this resonates with me. Have you read Scot McKnight’s The King Jesus Gospel. He talks a lot about evangelicalism’s “salvation culture” vice a gospel culture. His thesis is that “Jesus died for your sins” while true, is not the gospel proclaimed by Jesus & the apostles
Yeah…. I read it last year. I was actually going to reread it though… I feel like I need to think on it some more…
Unfortunately, “decisions” for Christ is one of those things that we can blame Charles Finney for that has created more problems than it’s solved. I agree that there should be a greater emphasis on making disciples than on simply getting a decision.
There are too many factors/influences/pressures that go into having someone make a decision, and too often it involves very little to zero follow-up. While the gospel needs to be presented to individuals, I firmly believe that it’s the work of the Holy Spirit that does the real work and is evidenced in someone who is being taught from the Word of God and bearing spiritual fruit.