Below is an excerpt from “The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-Shift that Changes Everything” by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne. They do ministry in Australia, so keep that in mind when some of the language or contexts seem a bit strange. The principles still hold true, and I hope they spark your imagination for how you might “make disciples” through the dual ministries of prayer and proclamation.
“Here, off the top of my head, are ten ways in which any Christian might “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) to someone else in the name of Christ, and thus participate in God’s great work in the world:
- Geoff is asked by his workmate Peter what he did on the weekend, and he replies that he heard an excellent sermon in church that helped him understand for the first time what was really wrong with the world. When Peter asks him to elaborate, Geoff explains why sin and God’s judgment explain the problems in our world. Geoff continues to pray for Peter that these sorts of opportunities would continue and that Peter’s heart would be softened to respond to the message.
- Sarah’s teenage son is having real problems at high school, and as they talk about it at night, she reassures him that God is stronger and more faithful than any friend, and prays with him.
- Bill is chatting to George after church, and shares with him how encourage he was by a particular verse in the Bible that day.
- Michael meets one to one every fortnight over breakfast with his mate Steve, who is a newish Christian. They use the Just for Starters set of Bible studies to work through some of the basic issues of living the Christian life.
- Alison is worried about her friend Debbie, who struggles with anxiety and has been missing church quite a lot. Alison writes her a one-page letter, offering encouragement, quoting a few Bible verses, and offering to get together to pray.
- Warren goes to a Bible study group each week at Jim’s house with six other people. He makes sure that he has read and thought about the passage before he goes, and prays that God would help him to say true and encouraging things in the group
- Irene is quite elderly and finds it hard to get out, but she phones her friend Jean every second day, talks to her about the Bible passage she has read that morning and prays with her over the phone.
- Clare has been praying for her friend Shirley for months, and finally invites her to an evangelistic evening that her church is running. On the way home in the car, Clare talks to Shirley about the message, and does her best to answer Shirley’s questions.
- Trevor rearranges his work schedule so that he can take Wednesday morning off to teach Scripture classes in his local primary school. he and his wife end up doing this for many years, and have an enormous impact on the lives of kids and teachers at their local school.
- At Phil’s church, they take a few minutes during the Sunday meeting for a congregation member to give a testimony or to ring and encouraging word to the congregation. This Sunday it’s Phil’s turn, and he tells how the teaching of Ephesians 5 has turned his marriage around.
Who has God put in your life? Do they work next to you? Live down the street? Are they a member of your church? A family member? A friend? Whoever they are, you and I have been called to make disciples by proclaiming his Word to them and trusting Him, through the power of His Spirit, to cause the gospel to either convert and cause spiritual growth in that person to His glory.