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Trickle-Down Evangelism

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Are disciples becoming disciple-makers?

The Reagan-era theory of trickle-down economics is hotly contested among pundits who question whether or not the poor are actually helped by benefits given to the wealthy. In theory, various tax cuts and benefits to the rich should trickle-down to the poor and allow for mutual advantage. Feed the cow enough, and eventually the sparrows will find some seeds in the steaming piles it leaves behind.

But does it work? Although I have some opinions, I’ll stay in my lane and leave that question to the economists, and instead ask a parallel question concerning the church.

Does trickle-down evangelism work? If we feed the disciple enough, will he or she become a powerhouse warrior for the Kingdom of God?

Here’s the version you’re most likely to hear: “We have to focus on our people. So many of them are immature and in desperate need of spiritual instruction. If we prioritize the growth and maturity of our people then that will have a trickle-down impact on their passion and ability to live on mission and share the gospel.” And so we design our churches for growth, consciously or unconsciously, through this filter.

This rationale at first-blush seems prudent, but far too often the stated goal never comes to fruition. Rather than passionate, mobilized, mature believers, the church’s efforts end up fostering an inwardly-focused people who are increasingly isolated from the world they are commissioned to reach. Instead of a kingdom warrior, our trickle-down efforts seem only to muster an isolated, insulated, and evangelistically impotent churchman.

In reality, the longer it takes for new disciples to become disciple-makers, the more unlikely it is they will prioritize this work. Over time, the gravitational …

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Source: Christianity Today Magazine

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