Building Conviction: the Soil for Holistic Discipleship

Eric Russ

Many in ministry are quick to think, Okay, I understand the theology of discipleship.  Now, how do I do it and do it effectively?  This is where we need to pause and begin a sober assessment, asking ourselves if this passion is based on conviction or pragmatism.  If we don’t ask (and answer) this question before we start discipling, it’s like we’re starting the car for a cross-country road trip with $6 in the gas tank. 

What is conviction?  Conviction is a fixed or firm belief.  It forces you to understand what you believe about discipleship and why you believe it.  When there is conviction, something is done.  Conviction and indifference can’t live together.

Why do we need to build conviction?  Simply, you can’t weather the storm without it.  Our culture tells us to flow out of efficiency and pragmatism – does it work? We should be asking a different question – is it true?  Without the firm conviction of what discipleship is and what is required of us, our sails will not endure the wind and we will eventually start giving in to what people want rather than what people need.

What does a firm conviction look like and how do I know I have built it?  People with conviction get behind the idea with everything they have; they own the vision.  Obstacles won’t defeat them.  Practicalities won’t prevent them.  All doubts and anxieties about the vision are viewed as opportunities to make the vision stronger, not threats to disband it.  They’re willing to go down with the ship, so to speak. 

Ask yourself if you are willing to not look successful in the eyes of men while remaining faithful to Christ.  Very few leaders are willing to put it all on the line with structuring their ministries based on the goal of making and multiplying healthy disciples.  But we have to get to a place where making disciples is our priority even if it costs us “success” in ministry.

The reality is that Jesus gave us a simple concept with huge implications for how we live our lives and how we do church.  We must build conviction before we move forward.