For most of this year, we have looked in to the book of Acts and what has been quite inspiring to me in studying the account of the early Church is the fact that although it’s inception and development were powerful, dynamic and supernatural, yet much growth also came on the back of intense hardship, problems and brutal persecution.
What is also evident however is the organic, or very natural, way in which individuals come into the Kingdom of God; through relationships and personal connections that led to discipleship. We do see the ‘cold sale’ evangelism of street ministry leading many to salvation but there is no denying that established connections are instrumental in many hearing the Gospel and also being discipled in the Way.
We read of Lydia and her household, Barnabas with Paul and John Mark, the household of the Philippian Jailer, Paul with Priscilla and Aquila who in turn convert Apollos. This is not at all dissimilar to the way Jesus recruited his twelve disciples. John 1 details how Andrew brought his brother Simon (Peter) to Jesus and Philip doing the same with Nathanael. God uses us to reach our own social circle first even before reaching strangers. And yet the most effective way to introduce unbelievers to Jesus is by befriending them first.
Again, Jesus employed this natural means of making connections and developing relationship beginning with a simple conversation that serves as an initiation to friendship. Friendships is where discipleship begins and I am convinced that if we are going to reach our world by making disciples of all nations, we must be willing to strike up conversations with a view to making friends. In the process of walking with friends, our hope is that they can see and walk with Christ for themselves.