After the last post I wrote on the Roman Road pattern of leading someone to Christ, Jared commented:
"I wonder if we should be encouraging people to confess the "Romans Road", or focus more on following Jesus. Not that the two are mutually exclusive, but which ever we lead with will (purposefully on inadvertently) be the end goal. This leads me to a second thought. I don't believe at all that following Jesus and a salvation experience are separate, but I'm concerned that if we focus first on the salvation experience and second on following, we inadvertently communicate that salvation is an end. I've seen a person's choice to accept Christ celebrated in such a way that one might wonder if a person had crossed the finish line rather than jumped at the starter's gun. I guess I'm asking: How do we make sure to emphasize discipleship and following Jesus so as to make sure that salvation is the key part of discipleship but not the sum total?"
I totally agree with what Jared says.
Several years ago, a friend of our daughter, Becky, attempted suicide. A group of about 10 from the public school she attended visited her in hospital, and it became apparent that of this group, only two of them, both from Christian families, had never made some kind of suicide attempt–or at least seriously contemplated it. As a result, Becky pulled together a group of kids at our home to discuss this.
This evolved into a group of around 15 kids who came together weekly. Each week we had one of them tell the story of their spiritual journey, and then we would spend time in the word and prayer. We played games with them or sat in our hot tub putting the world to rights until midnight or so.
Gradually we noticed changes in their lives. The kids would tell us they had stopped doing drugs, cussing, sleeping around. When they asked if they could get baptized, we would make sure they really understood the implications of following Jesus and if necessary, lead them through to an understanding of salvation and the Lordship of Christ using something like the Roman Road.
A "prayer of salvation" may be a beginning step in someone's spiritual journey, as it was in mine. But I would have been spared years of challenge if I had understood the implications of Jesus as Lord right from the start.