You may have heard of EE (Evangelism Explosion) but I would like to introduce you to DD (Dangerous Discipleship!) Oh, and, by the way, they both are related. Why? Because when Christians are externally reaching out to their friends, co-workers, neighbors and family members with the gospel of Jesus Christ they are, at the same time, engaging in an internal form of spiritual transformation.
The first thing Jesus did when he officially appointed them as apostles in Matthew 10 was to unleash them on an evangelistic campaign. Why? Because Jesus knew that when the disciples were put in a position of danger that they would be forced to either trust in him or run and hide. Jesus understood that discipleship without danger was really no discipleship at all.
If there is nothing to lose then there is nothing to gain. Maybe that's why Jesus boldly stated to the large crowds who were following him in Luke 14:26-27, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-yes, even his own life-he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple."
If you saw someone carrying their cross in that culture they were on their way to be crucified. So, in this passage, Jesus is inviting the crowds to come die with him by bearing the shame of His Name.
Are you willing to bear that same shame? If you are then start sharing your faith right away because evangelism gets splinter in your hands quicker than any Bible study ever could. Even as I type these words there are Christians across the globe dying for sharing their faith. They have picked up their crosses by proclaiming the Name of Jesus and risking everything.
In the United States you may not get killed for sharing your faith but you could lose your job, your reputation and your relationships. But remember that if you risk nothing then you gain nothing when it comes to your own spiritual development. And there is no spiritual discipline that risks as much as a lifestyle of relational and relentless evangelism.
In most discipleship meetings in the United States the only danger may be from a paper cut from turning the pages of the Bible or a a hot coffee tongue burn. Again, nothing lost, nothing gained.
Not too long ago I was invited to a men's Bible study. As the guys who were there described themselves and their meeting I heard phrases like "we are a band of brothers" and "we are spiritual warriors!" So when they asked me to share for a few minutes I pulled a pin on the discipleship grenade. I said something like, "No offense guys but, while this is a great little Bible study, I wouldn't quite call yourselves warriors yet. Warriors don't sit around and talk about how they are warriors they go out and fight the battle and then they gather together and tell stories of what happened on the battlefield."
I then helped them to re-imagine a new kind of gathering where they all picked a handful of others they were seeking to reach with the gospel. I cast a vision of a gathering where danger was introduced as a key element. Of course they could and should still dive into the Scriptures. But now the truths of the Divine Field Guide (aka "The Bible") would be punctuated by stories of real men risking everything by reaching others with the good news of Jesus verses just reading about those who did this 2,000 years ago on a different continent.
Some kind of chord was struck in their hearts that morning. They resonated with my challenge. I am excited to hear how their new format unfolds.
But it needs to unfold in more than just men's Bible studies. It needs to unfold in women's Bible studies, church services, Sunday school and youth group meetings.
As I travel the nation and connect with young people through Dare 2 Share training conferences, I find teenagers mostly bored with church. Why? Because they live in a cause-driven culture and go to information-driven churches. To them church is more of an information download than the gathering of spiritual warriors who are working together to accomplish a dangerous mission. But the cause of Christ is at the epicenter of danger. It is his last and lasting mandate to "make disciples of all nations…."
I believe if we can unleash our young people, our old people and every "people" in between for THE Cause then we can witness massive amounts of souls saved. But I also believe that we will see an accelerated spiritual growth in the lives of those who are advancing the gospel because of the dangerous form of discipleship they are engaged in as they advance the kingdom of God.
Let's do more than beat our chests and talk about being warriors for Christ. Let's beat down the doors of hell and plunder lost souls from the empire of darkness. Then we can gather around the campfire, share stories, dive deep into the Word of God and give him praise for all that he is doing.
Now that's dangerous!