Do you want to bring friends, or officemates, or family members closer to God–but feel very frustrated right now because they’ve not been responding?
Then keep reading. Because this article is made for you. In this article, I’ll teach a simple, non-confrontational, and happy way of bringing your loved ones closer to God.
Why is this important?
Because it’s your sacred mission.
Our Two-Word Mission Statement
If you’re working in a company, I bet you’re aware that your company has a “mission statement”.
But I also bet that you don’t know it by heart. (If you do, you must either be the owner of the company, or the HR manager that wrote the mission statement, or a genius who memorizes everything–even the entire Chemistry Table.)
Let me tell you about the history of the “mission statement” in my little spiritual family, Light of Jesus.
When webegan in 1980, wehad a very long, convoluted, complicated, heavy-loaded mission statement containing hundreds of words. The problem was that no one could remember it. I’d actually go around and ask people, “What’s the mission of the Light of Jesus? And I’d get all sorts of answers from people who want to pretend that they know. They’d tell me, “Our mission is to shine the light of Jesus through the annunciation of the visitation of the presentation of the resurrection…” And I’d say, “I’m not asking for the mysteries of rosary. I’m asking for our mission statement.”
The point was that it was too long.
So 18 years later, we shrunk it from hundreds of words to 24 words. It was a vast improvement–and people were happy! But here’s what we found out. Even if it was just 24 words only, no one could still remember it too! I ask them, “What’s the mission statement of the Light of Jesus?” And they’ll tell me, “The mission of the Light of Jesus is to shine the light of Jesus so that the light of Jesus will shine.” Answers like that made me wonder if our members were fasting too much.
So 4 years ago, we shrunk down our mission statement from 24 words to 2 words. And it worked. People remember. There were going to be exceptions, we knew. Perhaps if a member 114 years old OR if an alien stole their brains, it’s exceedingly easy to remember.
Here’s our two-word mission statement: Make disciples.
Problem–No One Uses That Word Anymore
Making disciples is what Light of Jesus Family is all about. That’s the reason why we exist. That’s the reason why there’s a Feast, our weekly gathering.
But alas, most people are afraid of that word, disciple.
It seems so scary. Because we don’t use that word anymore. If someone approaches you in a mall and says, “Hi. Can I disciple you?” I think you’d run away.
But Jesus used it a lot in the Bible. Here’s the simple definition of disciple: Someone who follows Jesus.
How do you do this?
Can you make disciples of Jesus?
Jesus Shows You A Simple Way To Make Disciples
Making disciples looks so intimidating, but Jesus showed us a very simple way to do it. He showed us a pattern, a strategy, a process that is so simple, it will blow your mind. If you follow this strategy, believe me, you’ll be able to make disciples and bring people closer to God.
One day, Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. And Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector in that area. The Bible says, because he was short he could not see over the crowd. (Luke 19:1-10) In today’s politically correct world, you can’t say Zach was short; you have to say Zack was horizontally challenged. But let me point out something very important: Zack was short physically, but he was also short spiritually.
Let me explain why he was small. Tax collectors weren’t even allowed to enter a synagogue or the church in their time–just like prostitutes–because they were public sinners. Because they were unclean.
You’d wonder why, right? I know we don’t like paying taxes, but we don’t prohibit employees of Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to enter our churches. Here’s the explanation. In the time of Jesus, tax collectors were Jews who worked for the Roman empire. They collected taxes for the enemy that has conquered their land. (Think makapili when the Japanese conquered the Philippines.) Not only that, Zacchaeus and tax collectors like him weren’t paid by the Romans. So to make a living, they would overcharge their countrymen. So some of them–like Zacchaeus–became very rich.
And then the Bible says that Zach ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
You know what made the difference for Zack? Zack wasn’t just small. Zack KNEW he was small. There are many people who are spiritually small, but don’t know they are spiritually small.
We need to acknowledge our smallness before God by climbing the sycamore tree of humility. And if you humble yourself, God says that he will lift you up.
When Jesus saw Zack, he said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
But people grumbled against Jesus. They said, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
Here’s the difference: People saw a sinner. Jesus saw a saint. People see the past. Jesus sees the future.
That day, Zack was saved. He said, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
And Jesus said, Today salvation has come to this house.
Right now, you may feel like you’re Zack. You feel very small in yours eyes; you may feel very small in the eyes of other people. But Jesus still sees you. Because though you’re small, you’re BIG in God’s eyes. You feel very small. You know you’ve failed, you’ve fallen, you’ve stumbled, you’ve sinned.
And Jesus tells you the same thing today. Jesus says, “I want to stay in your house. I want to live in you. I want to make your life my home. I want to make you the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Not temporarily but permanently. Open your house to me. Open your life to me. Open your heart to me. You may think you’re a small person. But that’s not true. In my heart, you’re very big.”
Discipleship Is Friendship
The strategy of Jesus is summarized by these three words: Discipleship Is Friendship.
Let me break it down into three lessons…
1. Meal Before the Message
When Jesus saw Zack, He didn’t say, “Repent, you thief! Ask forgiveness from God. You’re stealing from people and enriching yourself, you greedy bastard… And IF YOU REPENT, I’ll think about staying in your house and we could have lunch–so that we can discuss how you can repair your wrongdoing, pay all those who you have stolen, and give half of your wealth away.”
That would be how some religious leaders would do it, but not Jesus. Jesus’ first words to him were, “I must stay in your house.” He wanted to have lunch with Zack. He was offering his friendship.
In ancient middle-eastern culture, having a meal with someone is a solemn declaration to that person–and to the entire world–that you want to be friends with that person.
Do you want to make disciples?
The meal must come before the message. The relationship must come before religion. The testimony must come from the teaching.
In other words, Jesus first wanted to express his love for Zack. He wanted to build a relationship with him before he talked about rules, or rituals, or regulations.
Arguments don’t win souls; Affection does!
There’s another person Jesus evangelized…
The Woman Who Changed Spouses
The Way She Changed Clothes
The Bible doesn’t give us her name, so let’s call her Sam. For Samaritan Woman. Sam lived in a small dinky town called Sychar. There were no more than twenty homes in this little barrio. And the Bible says she was drawing water from Jacob’s well. (John 4:6-8)
Jesus comes along and asks her, “Can you give me a drink?”
With that one simple line, Jesus gives her something gigantic.
He was giving her WORTH.
And He did it in three levels.
First, Jesus was a Jew and Sam was a Samaritan. Jews hated Samaritans. Why? Samaritans were bastardized Jews. They were a product of the intermarriage between Jews and Gentiles, such as the Philistines, Edomites, and Moabites–the hated enemies of Israel. So Jews didn’t even share the bowl or glass or plate of a Samaritan, because they were unclean. But Jesus asks her, “Can you give me a drink?” He was going to use her bowl. In one act, Jesus was giving her worth as a Samaritan.
Second, Jesus was male and Sam was female. In the time of Jesus, a man wouldn’t talk to a woman in public because it was beneath their dignity. (In ancient times, a woman was a little bit higher than the family cow.) But Jesus was talking with her, giving her worth as a woman.
Third, Jesus was holy and Sam was unholy. The Bible says she drew water at 12 noon. Who in her right mind would do that? (Everyone draws water early morning when it’s not too hot.) She drew water at noon because she was hiding from people. Sam was an outcast. Why? Because she had five husbands–and the man she was living with wasn’t even any of them.
Jesus told her he knew that she changed husbands as often as others changed clothes. But He still insisted in becoming her friend. By asking, “Can I have a drink,” Jesus was saying, “In this town, no one likes you. Because they feel you’re a big sinner. And to talk to you means bad luck. But I like to be your friend today.”
Have you messed big time in your life?
Here’s the second lesson I want to share with you today…
2. Worth Before The Word
When Jesus discipled this woman, He didn’t first give the Word. He didn’t start the conversation by saying, “Sam, don’t you know the ten commandments? Doesn’t the word adultery mean anything to you? My goodness, you have five husbands! Tsk, tsk, tsk …”
He didn’t say that. Instead, He gave her worth before giving the word. He told her, “You’re valuable. You’re important. You’re worthy to be my friend.”
When you’re discipling, you don’t talk down to people. You don’t say, “You’re a sinner and you’re going to Hell. God is sick and tired of your sinfulness. Gosh, when will you repent?”
Look around you. There are many more Zacks and Sams in the world today. And all of them are waiting for Jesus to love them.
Question: How Many Catholics Still Go To Church
Every Sunday, churches are full.
But this standing-room-only crowd give us a false complacency that the Catholic Church is doing well. Truth? It’s not.
My own Bishop told me that very few Catholics are attending church today. (We just have a huge population–that’s why our churches are full.) He gave me the statistics… Out of 10 Catholics, only 1.5 attends Sunday Mass regularly. Out of 10 Catholics, 8.5 no longer attend church on Sundays.
(Point to one person standing and one person sitting down) And 1.5 people feel the church will condemn them because they’re living in immorality.
Some of these 8.5 people still go to church perhaps 3 times in their lifetime: When they’re hatched, matched, and dispatched.
And only 1.5 people still attend church every Sunday.
Here’s our problem: We focus on serving those 1.5 people. We forget that God calls us to reach those 8.5 people around us who don’t go to church.
Jesus said, If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? (Luke 15:4)
But that’s not what’s happening today. Sadly, we focus on the 99 who are attending church. All our church activities are for insiders. We sing songs that insiders like. We preach messages for insiders.
As church, we need to change.
The Purpose Of The Feast
That’s why we created the Feast, our weekly gathering. This is our small and humble way of reaching out to that one lost sheep. The Feast isn’t designed for insiders but for outsiders. Everything about the Feast–the music, the message, the atmosphere–every detail of the Feast is designed for the unchurched, the irreligious, people who feel far from God, or people who feel spiritual but not religious…
But as beautiful as the Feast is, it can’t make disciples. Because the real work of discipleship happens not in events, but in everyday life…
3. Do Before Delegate
When Jesus saw Zacchaeus up in the tree, he didn’t say, “Hey Zachy, I’m preaching at the Market two days from now. Can you go there at 8am? I’ll reserve a seat for you. I’ll be preaching on How To Live An Abundant Life. If you come, you’ll receive a welcome gift–a Novena to God’s Love….”
When Jesus met Sam the Samaritan, He didn’t say, “Sam, can I invite you to a prayer meeting? You’ll love the music ministry…”
He didn’t do any of that. The first thing He did was offer His friendship. And that’s what we need to do too.
Before you invite people to a religious event, invite them to a friendship.
Because discipleship is friendship.
So here’s my third lesson: Do before Delegate. We like to delegate discipleship to the Feast. Don’t do that. Do it first.
Here’s a tragedy: People come to a prayer meeting, like it a lot, but after a few months drop off. Why? Because a friend wasn’t there to disciple them.
Seek Out The Unchurched
In your prayer meetings, I encourage you to create a welcoming atmosphere. Talk to people around you. If you find out that there’s someone new beside you, then make a new friend. Invite that person for coffee.
One day, a woman came up to me and said, “Bo, God has changed my life upside down. I’ve left all my un-renewed friends. Because we talk about the most inane stuff. They curse so much, I feel like puking. And they smoke like chimneys. I really can’t stand their gossip, the cursing, their smoking anymore. I now hangout only with members of our prayer group. So everytime we talk, we talk about godly stuff. We talk about the Word. We talk about what God is doing in our lives….”
I told her, “Keep meeting your prayer group friends for prayer and fellowship. But you need to set aside time to build relationships with un-renewed friends. Who will reach out to them?”
Remember, God calls you to be a fisher of men.
There are two images of fishing in our minds.
The first image is a fisherman wearing a hat and seated on a recliner, with a tackle box beside him, holding a bottle of beer in one hand and holding a fishing pole on the other.
The second image is a group of rugged men on a boat, pulling a large circular net with weights around its side.
When Jesus calls us to be “Fishers of men”, He didn’t mean the first image because that didn’t exist during His time. He meant the second image–because that was what He saw everyday around the Sea of Galilee.
Here’s my point: You can’t make disciples alone. You can only make disciples within a community. Why? Jesus said that people will know that we’re disciples because of our love for each other. (John 13:35)
I tell members of Light of Jesus to create an open event for people who aren’t attending the Feast yet… Play badminton or watch a movie together or go to an outreach… Love is the greatest magnet because love is our greatest human need. So let the unchurched see how they love each other.
My Meal Ministry In College
When I was in college, I had a classmate who I ate lunch with everyday for 2 years. Every once in awhile, I’d talk about God–but he wouldn’t want to listen to me. We’d just end up arguing. So I decided just to be his friend.
We talked about girls, sports, girls, politics, girls, exams… did I mention that we talked about girls? Sorry, we were regular college kids with hormones raging through our veins. Our favorite pastime was sitting at the cafeteria and grading beauty. I will say, “That’s an 8.1” and he’d say, “Are you sure? Nah, just a 7.6…”
When I dropped out of college, I never saw him again. In one sense, I felt I was a big failure in the evangelistic department. Because he never followed Jesus.
Fifteen years later, I was walking in a mall when a guy greeted me. He said, “Bo Sanchez!” I turned around and saw my long-lost pal. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
And the first thing he said was, “Bo, remember all our lunches and how you tried to talk about God to me–and I just ridiculed you?”
“I want to thank you for planting the seeds in my heart. I’m now a missionary. Thank you Bo…”
“But I didn’t really talk about God to you. I couldn’t. You kept arguing with me. So instead of talking about God, we talked about girls!”
That was when I realized something: Our lunches “worked”. I just gave him my friendship. And that simple friendship was God’s Love to him. The meal came before the message. Because the meal was the message!
The Three Stages Of Discipleship
Here’s what I realized: Just like farming, discipleship is composed of three stages. Planting, Growing, and Reaping. Sometimes, God wants you to do all three. Most of the time, God will ask you to do only one of these three stages to a person. The third stage–Reaping–is always the most exciting, because you’ll actually see someone turn to the Lord and give his life to God.
But sometimes, God will call you to the Planting stage only. It’s very discouraging when God calls you to be in the first stage–because you won’t see any results. For example, after having lunch with my college buddy everyday for 2 years, I didn’t see any evidence that he was growing closer to God.
Perhaps you’re in the same shoes. Perhaps you’ve been loving your children, or loving your husband, or loving your friends–but they still refuse to join you at your prayer meetings or pray or read the Bible. That’s okay. You’ve done your part. You’ve planted seeds. Trust in God that His Word does not return empty. God says, “It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit.” (Isaiah 55:11)
Believe That The Seeds You Plant Will Bear Fruit
Last month, I received news that filled my heart with so much joy. You see, seventeen years ago, I worked with a bunch of teenagers in Light of Jesus. I personally took them under my wing.
But when they hit their twenties, some of them got busy in their careers, got married, had babies, and worked abroad. I didn’t hear from them for MANY years.
Last month, our international missionary Roy Pasimio visited the Middle East. And he told me that we now have new video Feasts in that part of the world. I asked him, “Who are our leaders there?” And Roy told me, “Remember the teenagers that were part of our youth group years ago? They’re now our leaders there.”
Yes, the seeds planted in their youth are now flourishing and bearing fruit.
Friend, don’t be discouraged when it seems like nothing is happening to your loved ones that you’re trying to disciple. Be happy that you were able to “plant” your love and friendship in their hearts. Your role is to plant. God’s role is to grow the plant. As they say, you may be the only Bible that people will read. Believe that one day, harvest will come.
May your dreams come true,
PS. Need Guidance On How To Find Your One True Love? If you need clear and practical guidance on how to discern, select, and attract the right person for your life, help is on the way this coming September 1. Rissa Singson-Kawpeng and I will be giving a How To Find Your One True Love Seminar on that day. For more information, click here.