And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”— Matt. 4:19.
Summer is in full view, and that means churches, Christian camps and others are working overtime to share the Good News with children and young people. Lord willing, Oklahoma will have many who hear Jesus’ call, and we will see many decisions for Christ in summer 2014.
The idea of making decisions for Christ, however, has fallen on hard times. David Fitch, in an article on ChristianityToday.com, said, “We keep counting what we call ‘decisions for Christ’ in our churches. Yet we know most of these decisions don’t mean anything. Statistics continue to show that only a small percentage of our recorded ‘decisions’ are made by people who will still be following Jesus a year later.” Others have criticized the way we talk about salvation, especially “asking Jesus into your heart.”
While these thinkers mean well—and we do want to steer away from “easy believism” and shallow decisions that do not last (Matt. 13:1-23)—we see that decisions for Christ were important from the very beginning.
In Acts, Luke tells in powerful detail of the Day of Pentecost. When Peter preached, many decisions for Christ were made. “So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them” (Acts 2:41).
I firmly believe our energy would be spent better not deriding decisions but making it clearer what the decision they have stepped into. To that end, here are four summer reminders for us Gospel-sharers:
/// Focus on quality,
not merely quantity
In the Great Commission (Matt. 28), Jesus calls us to make disciples of all nations, not converts. Churches and ministries are often judged on the sheer number of people who make decisions. While it is always exciting to learn of large numbers coming to Christ, because those reflect real souls being saved, it is best to focus on people and not numbers. After all, Jesus Himself seemed to care more that He had a few committed followers than many who would not endure (Luke 14:28-32; John 6:65-66).
/// Remember Who does
Terms like “asking Jesus into your heart” can place the emphasis on the wrong subject. We must remind believers that we were all dead in our sins and that we are saved by God’s grace alone (Eph. 2:8-9). Whether you have Calvinist or Non-Calvinist leanings, we all agree that only God can issue the call for salvation. Therefore, do your part in reinforcing this fact in conversations and in your own manner of speaking.
/// This is the beginning, not the ending
New Christians, especially children, should be told that accepting Christ and following Him in believer’s baptism is the starting point of our new life, not the end. If you stop to think about the term “born again,” what image does it conjure up? It brings to mind a beginning point to life. With birth comes growth. While we are explaining to children the A-B-C’s of salvation, let’s remind them that salvation is, as one writer recently pointed out, an A-to-Z process that lasts throughout eternity.
/// Keep telling the story
Bloggers, theologians and pastors could argue to no end about the salvation process and how to share the Gospel with children and youth. We would do better to abide by the G.K. Chesterton saying, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” In other words, God knows our best efforts will still be weak and incomplete. Only He can perfect what we say and do and save people in spite of ourselves.
God help us…