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Looking Back to Go Forward

Robert Webber urges churches to catch the spirit of the ancient model.
2004This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

How can evangelism produce not only converts but disciples who grow in faith and become active members of the church? Robert Webber, a professor at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary and president of the Institute for Worship Studies, responds here to CT editor David Neff's challenge to the International Consultation on Discipleship to develop a "full-orbed vision" of the life of the disciple.

Webber creates a model for evangelism and discipleship based on church history. He suggests a four-stage process—conversion, discipleship, spiritual formation, and Christian vocation—with appropriate "rites of passage."

He argues that the local church needs to return to basics, better assimilate new Christians into the life of the church, foster community, and rediscover the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as an essential feature of the Christian message. Rather than disciplemaking becoming a set of rules, he invites each local congregation to "catch the spirit of the ancient model and listen to how the Spirit leads them to apply the model in their cultural setting."

Questions at the end of each chapter will further aid discussion.

Cindy Crosby is the author of By Willoway Brook: Exploring the Landscape of Prayer (Paraclete, 2003).

Related Elsewhere:

More information is available from the publisher.

Ancient-Future Evangelism is available from

More information about Webber is available on the Northern Baptist Seminary web site as well as the AncientFutureWorship site.

The Institute for Worship Studies also has information.

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