The following content is an excerpt from the eBook Fill Your Seats. Download your free digital version in your favorite format here.
Human beings and cockroaches are the only two animals that gamble. Ivan Pavlov’s experiments proved that responses become predictable with consistent reinforcement. Very predictable. Except . . . sometimes, we human beings will make an unpredictable decision: “Hmm, I wonder if this might be the one time the reward will be behind door number three,” or “the bullet won’t be in the firing chamber,” or “the cards will turn up 21.” Oddly enough, experiments have shown that not only do humans have this “curiosity chip,” so do cockroaches! (That has nothing to do with discipleship, but it might help you win a team trivia trophy.)
The Apostle Paul connected this curiosity with faith. In Romans 1:20, he says:
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Faith begins with curiosity. Even before science and Scripture, men were curious. Some were willing to ignore the overwhelming evidence of God in creation and believe everything “just happened.” Others saw the science, yet knew in their minds and hearts that this creation had to have a Creator. Both sets of people—those who ignore the evidence and those who don’t—demonstrate curiosity.
Interest in discipleship starts the same way. It’s not about coming up with a trick to entice people; it’s about exposing them to who you are by embodying Jesus and allowing Him to live through you. This helps others feel His love and become curious about what fuels you to live “this way of life.”
Remember, folks who are already interested in discipleship and disciple making are going to be fine. We’ve got all kinds of options for them. Our focus needs to shift from “selling the best tools” to “creating the most curiosity.”
And the first place to look, as always, is Jesus.
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Jesus, the Spectacle
We can’t even imagine the world into which Jesus was born: the Jewish theocracy (i.e., church = government) under the bigger, badder government of Rome; thousands of rabbis; and synagogues and “holy men” everywhere. How would the unknown Messiah become known?
He became known by doing miracles in public.
Jesus created curiosity through things like turning water into wine, healing people from their infirmities and diseases, walking on water, raising people from the dead, and feeding thousands by multiplying small amounts of food.
These spectacular miracles won Him the attention of people. They also fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies and validated His identity. Maybe, most importantly, they created a platform for His life and message to be heard. His miracles put Him “on the map” of His day. He generated curiosity, not just among the Jews, but also among the Gentles and the Romans. They had to pay attention to a guy who raised people from the dead!
Once He had people’s attention, He went about teaching a way of life. Jesus’ message went deeper and lasted longer than His miracles. It was about “living water,” “fruit that will last,” along with grace, peace, and eternal life.
I’m old enough to remember the packed arenas during Billy Graham’s crusades, perhaps the best-known “religious spectacle” of the twentieth century. Thousands of people gathered to hear his passionate sermons. In a way, the spectacle was the event itself, with packed out arenas, amazing musicians, and powerful singing. But the most amazing part was watching hundreds, if not thousands, of people walk down the aisles and pray to receive Christ.
In the wake of these huge crusade spectacles, Christian leaders realized that a way of life couldn’t be learned in a few minutes bowed at an altar. Someone who was living this way of life had to teach and model this way of life (e.g., how to follow Jesus). Thus, a number of parachurch and disciple-making organizations sprung to life.
I (obviously) can’t speak for God, but if He wants to use a spectacle, like the Billy Graham crusades, to create curiosity in discipleship, He’ll do that whenever and however He chooses. But my gut tells me God wants us to generate curiosity the way Jesus did . . . outside of the public eye.
How did He do it?
This comes from the free eBook Fill Your Seats, which you can download here.
Written by Regi Campbell
Regi Campbell grew up in a small-town church. He’s belonged to congregations in multiple cities and gotten to know a quite a few pastors and churches. For the past twenty-three years, he’s been a part of one of America’s largest churches, Andy Stanley’s North Point Community Church serving as an Elder twice and in other leadership roles. His first three books—About My Father’s Business, Mentor Like Jesus, and What Radical Husbands Do—speak to business people, mature men, and husbands respectively. Campbell now speaks to Senior Pastors, Staff Pastors, and leaders in the local church, sharing what he’s learned about creating interest in discipleship and disciple making.
Regi is the Founder and Chairman of Radical Mentoring, a nonprofit focused on equipping and encouraging churches to build disciples and disciple makers through intentional men’s small group mentoring. Regi believes the future of the local church is intimately connected to the development of strong Jesus-following lay leaders who will lead their wives, children, businesses, neighborhoods, and churches with God at the center.