Over the past two years, I have been on a journey, spiritually and professionally, that I didn’t even realize until reflecting back. Over the past two and a half years, the nonprofit evangelistic equipping ministry that I lead, called Compelled, has gone from an idea to a ministry that has helped equipped over 4000 people—primarily in the Bay Area. But Compelled has reached beyond, as well, to share the hope that we have in Jesus in an intentional, relational, and relatable way. Never, in my wildest dreams, would I have imagined that the opportunities and the life change that has happened would actually take place. Not just in others, but also in myself.
The evangelism training was originally launched because godly mentors in my life told me that I should not just help lead people to Christ, but also equip others to do so. Back in May of 2013, my wife and I decided that it would make sense professionally and spiritually to take an associate pastor job at a church in the south county area of the bay. One reason for this was that it would be very informative (and sanctifying) to have a boss and to pastor full-time, getting to know even better what pastors of churches deal with day in and day out. Also, we thought the environment of this church would provide stability for our family, as it is hard being itinerant speaker who travels and isn’t in the same place every Sunday.
We moved to this town and enjoyed much of our new community and opportunities to really dig our teeth into a new church and culture. Those who are close to us may know that there were many changes out of our control and pretty quickly into our new endeavor, it was becoming clear that this was not what we thought it was going to be. In that time, I learned humility from a perspective I had never experienced before. I still had a lot of relationships where we had come from, but attempted to spend more time connecting in the new community that we had committed to. This entire time, I had no idea that even in the midst of frustrations of not feeling like I was “winning” at anything, God was doing a work in me, my character, my understanding of Scripture, and dependence on Him that I could never have realized in the moment.
As a teaching team, we were preaching through the book of Mark on Sunday mornings. I never was a huge fan of the Gospel of Mark. It seemed shorter and less descriptive and/or personal as the other three Gospels (Matthew, Luke, and John). But as I had the honor of preaching pretty often on Sunday mornings and writing new messages on different passages, I came to the conclusion that this book was significantly richer than I had previously understood.
It seemed to be the “charismatic” Gospel, where the gift of healing and exercising demons seemed to be very abundant and consistent. But the underlying theme that I never noticed changed my thinking, understanding, and methodology of how I do ministry. The subtle theme is that there was an epidemic in Jesus’ time, which has continued and may even be more prevalent today. The epidemic that I am talking about is hardness of heart.
Biblically, hardness of heart happens when you hear the truth of God and decide, intentionally or unintentionally, to disobey or ignore God’s truth. In the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), we see this as Pharaoh refused God’s command over and over and his heart hardened. In the book of Mark, we see this as the Pharisees especially read the words of the prophets and Moses over and over, but attempted to intellectually affirm the words without ever allowing them to take root in their hearts and apply what they had learned.
It was this theme that changed the way I learned, evangelized, and discipled others. I realized that many don’t know of or even understand the magnitude in which hardness of heart can have on someone, especially those inside of the church hearing the truth every week in church—not being expected to do anything with what they have heard. I personally started to understand this more and more because I actually experienced hardness of heart myself by reading, studying, and listening to God’s Word and conviction in my own life and disobeyed or ignored what He was clearly telling me to do.
As I shared this perspective in sermons in many different contexts, including churches of all different denominations, colleges, and in personal conversations, I saw how this was not just an epidemic, but more the norm in the lives of most people who had spent a lot of time attending church services throughout their lives. For many, including myself, it was this hardness of heart being called out that lit light bulbs over many people in my sphere of influence.
While I studied and studied, I came to the realization that Jesus gave us the antidote to a hardened heart, but many don’t see it at first glance because we are desensitized to it . . . because it has become common folklore in the church: the Great Commission, which is making disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples, etc. A.K.A. the ultimate “Jesus pyramid scheme”. But if we are honest, there seems to be a reproduction problem in the church. We may see new “converts” in the church who have said yes to Jesus, but many of them are not growing in their new decision of Christ, and eventually, like the parable of the sower predicts, “are scorched and withered away”.
Jesus never said go into all the world and get people to make decisions. He said “go and make disciples . . .” We may often think: yes, we are supposed to do that . . . but how? I think the disconnect with discipleship, especially in the American church of Jesus Christ, is that no one really defines what a disciple is because we never fully arrive and we are always in process. But, what target are we aiming at?
Seems like, in the church, we are aiming at getting individuals to "believe in Jesus,” be baptized, and serve/give to the church. None of those things are wrong, but if they are the target and not the byproduct of the Commission to actually make disciples, we are doing a disservice to those we are attempting to reach with the message of the Gospel.
I used to get super excited about all of the people who have heard about Jesus in a relational and relatable way by those who had been trained through Compelled, but the more and more I have studied Scripture, the more I have realized that the biggest “fruit” has come from those who have been equipped. And, in some cases for the first time ever, are not just hearers of the Word, but doers of the Word. A disciple does not just hear the truth, but he does it. Because of that, Compelled, completely by God’s grace and design, has started to help people who believe and become disciples by applying the truths of God, which now allow them to stop ignoring the truth, less their hearts continue to harden.
Over the past three years, we have been developing a new training, known to some as “Compelled 201,” but our real name is Compelled to Replicate. This new training is designed to help answer the question: “I helped reach my friend for Jesus, so what do I do with them?” We plan to teach a four-week training just like the first Compelled, about two hours each training, where the hope is to encourage, equip, and empower those who want to learn how to replicate disciples of Jesus, who will replicate disciples of Jesus . . . etc. Replication needs to take place until the whole world has heard and understands that there is a God that they can know personally, who demonstrated this through the fact that Jesus lived, died on a cross for mankind’s sin, and physically rose from the dead, proving that Jesus truly was/is God with skin.
Therefore, we soon will provide Compelled to Replicate in a beta form (while still teaching Compelled evangelism training, or as we refer to it in house: Compelled to share, to those churches and colleges who would like to host those trainings). Our hope is that Compelled to Replicate won’t just answer “What do I do with my friend who said yes to Jesus?” but will provide definition for discipleship, some biblical “HOW TOs,” and motivation and theology behind discipleship and its necessity for those of us who claim to follow Jesus.
Compelled to Replicate, in four trainings, will cover:
Reproduction Problem in the Church
Hardness of Heart
Blaspheme of the Holy Spirit
Parable of the Soils
Disciples not Decisions
Antidote to a Hardened Heart
Disciple as You Go
Wise and Foolish builders
6 Tenants of Discipleship
Determine the Relationship
5 Stages of Spiritual Growth
Ephesians 4 Leader
How to Study Scripture with Someone
How to Build Small Groups/House Churches
Methods of Outreach through Discipleship
Kink in the Hose
Beating the Drum of Investment
Imitators of Jesus
Here is the Compelled to Replicate promo video to give you a taste of what we are doing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoh-I5-Xs3Y
If you are interested in being a part of the beta teaching starting in a few weeks, please register at: http://www.compelled.org/training-events/
Also, Compelled is growing and we are attempting to do more and more trainings for evangelism and discipleship, so if there is a church or ministry that you would like to connect us with that would benefit from what we do, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
We do this full-time and plan to hire a few more speakers, missionaries, and administrators, so if you feel compelled to partner with us financially, please follow this link to see how to do so: http://www.compelled.org/support/