All this talk recently regarding discipleship and evangelism reminded me of the time over twenty years ago now, when Gordon and I moved to Clifton-on-Teme to work with a herd of pedigree Charolais cattle,??; well in truth it was Gordon doing the work! This was the first farm we had worked on that also had sheep. Gordon who is a cowman through and through, was not very interested; I on the other hand was. After all they were much easier to handle. I could, if I put my mind to it, turn one over onto its back, a cow would be more likely to turn me over on my back!
This skill would prove to be quite useful at lambing time.
So what has all this got to do with discipleship evangelism?
When lambing time came around I realised that long hours and hard work were required. Even before the lambs arrived the ewes were brought out of their natural environment, the fields, into the lambing shed where those expecting twins, triplets or singles (yes sheep go for a scan just like us) were separated and penned together accordingly, so that they could be fed and monitored appropriately.
As the lambs started to arrive those with twins usually got on very well. A ewe can comfortably feed and look after two lambs. For a couple of days the shepherd will continue to feed and care for all three. After that, if all is well and the weather isn’t too awful, off they will go back out to the field. Healthy mature sheep beget healthy lambs.
Sometimes when triplets are born one can be smaller and weaker. The shepherd will perhaps try and get a ewe with a single lamb to take one of the triplets. This is by no means easy and involves quite extreme measures which I won’t go into in case you are of a nervous disposition! Ewes do not take kindly to being given an orphan lamb. I wonder if in June we will be ready and willing to take on orphan lambs?
One of my jobs at lambing time was to feed the orphan lambs who had no mother to care for them. This was a very demanding job but rewarding as I watched them grow. However, my joy turned to huge dismay when a month later when the flock were brought in to be drenched (dewormed) the orphan lambs looked terrible, they hadn’t thrived. They had no mother to feed from and show them how to gradually learn to feed themselves.
I recently came across some interesting statistics as I was learning about discipleship evangelism. Only about 15% of people who claim to have accepted Jesus continue in the faith. If one person were to successfully disciple one new believer for six months and then that person began to disciple someone else and so on and so forth this is what would happen.
In 18 months you would have 8 new disciples.
In 2 years there would be 16.
In 5 years there would be 1024.
In 10 years there would be 1,480,576.
In 12 ½ years there would be 33,000,000.
In 15 years there would be 1 billion.
In 16 ½ years there would be 8 billion people (more than the population of the world).
Compare this to an evangelist who went out on the streets and was able to get 1000 converts each year of which possibly only 15% would go on to become true disciples. I’ll let you do the maths ??.
The commission from Jesus was to go and make disciples, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that He commanded us and then He would be with us always, even to the end of the age.
This leaves me with a couple of questions. Am I ready to adopt people who have confessed with their mouths ‘Jesus is Lord’ in order to disciple them and ensure that they believe in their hearts too? Am I ready and can I teach people what Jesus has taught me and more importantly, will they look at me and see that I am living in the truth of what I am saying?
I don’t know about you but this has challenged me ‘big time’.
Watch this space I will let you know how I get on.