converts vs. disciples

I am reading a book about leadership right now and came across the story of Dawson Trotman.
Dawson was the founder of The Navigators, and the story that I read was about a major turning point early in his ministry.

In the early 1930’s Dawson had a reputation as an effective minister, seeing great results at the altar as he traveled the states with an evangelical message.

The following is an excerpt from “The making of a leader”.

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“One day Dawson picked up a hitch-hiker whose speech indicated that he was not a believer. Within moments he discovered that this man was one of his “converts” of the previous year whose dedication had not been followed up and who had virtually died on the vine. Shaken, Dawson reasoned that there must be countless such persons who had sincerely, perhaps with tears, called on the name of the Lord, but whose lives had not been changed. What was wrong?

From that time on Dawson resolved to follow up anyone he led to Christ, a work far more difficult than soul-winning, and to encourage others to give their converts their rightful opportunity to grow in Christ. The truth had come into focus, and he made an axiom out of it: ‘You can lead a man to Christ in twenty minutes to a couple of hours, but it takes twenty weeks to a couple of years to adequately follow him up.’ The hitch-hiker convert startled him into realigning his ministry, less emphasis on getting the decision and more on growing up in Christ. Dawson’s goal had been changed from winning souls to building strong disciples and recruiting laborers for God. He began to preach, ‘God can do more through one man who is 100 percent dedicated to Him than through 100 men who are only 90 percent.”

At Dawson’s funeral in 1956 Billy Graham said of him, “I think Dawson Trotman has personally touched more lives for Christ's sake than anybody that I have ever known."

Dawson’s convictions about ministry direction are still the core beliefs of the ministry he founded. Here is some stuff off of The Navigators website.

“Our purpose is to know Christ, and to make Him known. The hallmarks of our ministry are one-to-one relationships and small-group studies focused on discipleship. Just as the foundation of a building is essential but unseen, our ministry’s contributions are often played out away from center stage, away from the spotlight’s glare. The U.S. ministry touches lives through everyday settings such as college campuses, military bases, inner cities, prisons, and youth camps, adding to the kingdom for God’s glory. One by one, both our U.S. and International staff members teach people to follow Christ passionately and help them: apply the Bible to their daily lives, pass on what they learn to others, and train these new believers, in turn, to reach others.”

What do you think???



Jeremy said...

It seems clear to me that the goal is disciples, as Christ wants us to live Godly lives and no greater good can come from a decision that goes nowhere, but this raises a further question in my mind as to whether someone who accepts Christ into their hearts but doesn't continue on living as a christian will end up in heaven. Is the initial decision enough?

Anonymous said...

There was a time when I rememeber sitting around a table for dinner with friends while we ate lettuce wraps. There was conversation about preaching styles and a comment made that has stayed with me. The comment made was to prove that one pastor was better or more "effective" than the others. It was stated that when this particular pastor preached, more people raised their hands at the end for the "invitation" that when any other pastor preached. Thus, making him a more "effective" pastor. Every time I think of that, I get upset. It's time to move past quantity and focus on quality.

jimi said...

i don't have any insightful things to say about the discussion here, but i wanted to chime in and say that Daws is one of my alltime favorite books.

jimmy said...

I'm not usually very insightful either...

But I never let that stop me!

Nikki said...

Hey Jim, are the navigators you're talking about based out of colorado springs? I asked because they have a big piece of land out there that belongs to the navigators! (I've been there) It actually has a castle and everything on their land. Just wondering if it is the same group. Peace out!

jimmy said...

That's them!