Over the years, I have heard frequent reports about thousands upon thousands who have been saved here in South India, specifically in the regions I have visited. In light of these reports, I am puzzled by the prevalent idol worship within these evangelized areas. I wonder where the tens of thousands of Christian converts exist.
I’m not criticizing mass evangelism, but it seems that mass salvation responses have resulted in a minimal regional impact. Could millions have been converted and not transformed into disciples? Were all the saved crowds led out of their Hinduism? Mass evangelism is a concern in India because Hinduism allows one to respond to the gospel while maintaining a traditional idolatrous faith. Are the respondents to a Christian alter call at various rallies genuinely a response of commitment to Jesus?
Jesus reached the masses, but in addition to this, He intentionally and methodically made disciples. True evangelism cannot end in mere conversions. It must continue in producing disciples. We can see Jesus’ commitment to making disciples. He developed His twelve and sent out the trained seventy. (Matt 10, Luke 10) Christ’s impact was long term. On the day of Pentecost, only 120 disciples resulted as those committed enough to “wait on the promise of the Father.” (Acts 1:15) Yet the 120 transformed all of Jerusalem in a short time. (Acts 5:28)
Is it possible that we’ve vainly applauded the mass marketing approach of spreading the gospel? Are we neglecting the simple and lifelong pathway of making disciples? Could our neglect of discipleship be the reason for an overwhelmingly shallow faith in the current church culture? I believe that mass evangelism and discipleship can be accomplished simultaneously. The result of both methods must end in the raising up of disciples who can make disciples.