There are two main ways to reach people for Christ. One is to focus on the outward appearance of a person, and expect them to change how they look. Another way would be to focus on the inside first.
A person who disciples by focusing on the outside, wants their disciple to immediately change how they dress, how they fashion their hair, their make-up, etcâ€¦ One of two things can happen. Either they will change their appearance and look â€œChristian,â€ or they reject Christianity all together. The concern is really not their spiritual walk; many disciple makers simply donâ€™t like diversity in their church.
They feel all Christians should look, sound, act, dress, and worship like they do. There is, however, a problem with this mentality â€“ the person may change on the outside but there is little change on the inside. I believe that Jesus talked about this type of disciple making when he said to the Pharisees, â€œWoe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.â€ Matthew 23:15 When a person only focuses on the outside, you get a shallow disciple.
There is another option available to us. A disciple maker could look past the weird dress, colorful makeup, and course comments and instead focus on the heart. Jesus called people to holiness, repentance, love of neighbors, etcâ€¦ The problem with this process is that it takes time and there will be moments where your disciple does things that embarrass you. But as you love them, the change comes from the inside out. They will slowly begin to make decisions about dress, behavior, etc. on their own without having to be told. Their discipleship will be heartfelt and authentic, not shallow and hypocritical.
Currently, our youth ministry is exploding and there is subtle pressure to focus on outwards things. There are some that wants us to focus on certain outward â€œthingsâ€ immediately because it makes them feel uncomfortable. We are having tons of kids coming, and they donâ€™t look like â€œus.â€ I say, â€œPraise the Lord!â€ In order for us to have a true impact on their lives we have to love them for who they are right now, and disciple them into whom they will become. Authentic and real discipleship takes a while. Lasting change doesnâ€™t happen overnight.