(Read Matthew 3:1-11; 4:17-25; Mark 1:8-18 and 1 Corinthians 1:17-24)
Matthew 28:18-20 18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Nowhere in scripture did Jesus tell us to go and make converts. Jesus told His disciples to teach them to observe all the things He commanded. The words "teaching them to observe all things" literally is the word that is translated "Disciple" throughout the bible. Most versions translates this "go and make disciples". The Lord commanded us to make disciples not converts. Somewhere along the way, the church has changed the emphasis from making disciples to getting people born-again, leaving discipleship to the mature.
John 3:1-3 1Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." 3Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Jesus talked to Nicodemus about the spiritual birth compared to the natural birth, but He never preached to the people about being born-again. By making that the focus, the church is actually lowering its standards leaving people with the misconception that all they need to do is just be born-again and discipleship is optional. That is not what Jesus commanded us to do. When we ask people to receive Jesus as their savior we need to teach them that this is a total commitment of ones life to the Lord. It means becoming a disciple of Jesus.
John 2:23-25 23Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. 24But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, 25and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.
Jesus did not commit Himself unto them although they believed on Him. The word "commit" and "believe" are actually the same word in the Greek here. So you could say they believed on Him, but He did not believe in them! He knew they were not disciples.
John 8:30-32 30As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him. 31So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
More correctly these verses say when you continue in the word, then you will know the truth, and the truth you know sets you free. In these verses Jesus was speaking to those who already believed on Him. Jesus knew that only those who became disciples would truly become free.
Compare the following:
Case #1: If you evangelize 1000 people per year for 15 years, you would have 15,000 new believers (assuming they were all genuine converts).
Case #2: If you led one person to the Lord every 6 months and spent the next 6 months teaching that person so they could reproduce themselves – in 1 year there would be 2 new Christians. However, after 12 years, if each continues to reproduce themselves every 6 months there would be no one left on earth to evangelize! Jesus’ method of discipleship would have produced nearly 6 billion disciples in less than 13 years.
Discipleship evangelism works!