Bait-and-switch disciple-making is a failure …

“I knew it was too good to be true!” is something most of us have said at some time in our lives, often after someone has pulled a “bait-and-switch” routine on us.

“Bait-and-switch” is the practice of drawing someone in with something attractive or appealing, then switching what they’re really given with something less appealing.

While many unscrupulous businessmen use this method routinely, it’s also a popular method for drawing people into the church. The method might fill some seats or pews with more people, but it’s a failure at making real disciples of Jesus Christ.

That’s because in luring people into the church with select teachings of really good news for sinners, we often fail to tell a key truth about discipleship: becoming a disciple of Jesus is always on His terms and His timing.

What are the terms and timing Jesus requires of anyone in order to be His disciple? Complete surrender of your life … now!

Here’s how Jesus communicated His terms and timing with a couple of people who claimed a desire to follow Him:

“As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ But Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.’ He said to another person, ‘Come, follow me.’ The man agreed, but he said, ‘Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.’ But Jesus told him, ‘Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the kingdom of God.’ Another said, ‘Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.’ But Jesus told him, ‘Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God’,” Luke 9:57-62.

We use the “bait-and-switch” method of bringing people into the church today because we know if we were honest with people about the terms and timing of being a disciple, many would reject the call to follow Christ.

Instead, we’ve lured a lot of people into the church who say, “Yes, I will follow You …” but then say, “First let me … then, I will …”

One thing Jesus understood is that those who respond with the “First let me … then I will …” are people who put others ahead of Him and are insincere about their profession.

There’s a lot of people like that in the church today, people who say …

“First, let me raise the kids, then I will …”

“First, let me help my family, then I will …”

“First, let me get my studies done, then I will …”

“First, let me get my career going, then I will …”

“First, let me get some bills paid off, then I will …”

“First, let me learn some more, then I will …”

A church full of “First let me … then I will …” people has little impact on the world around it because there are few who are actually following Christ.

These people fail to understand that discipleship is not something you give mental assent to now, and later live out in a piecemeal fashion on your terms and timing. Jesus sets the terms and timing, which are the complete surrender of our lives, now!

Do you share the Good News of Jesus Christ, complete with His terms and timing? Or do you try to attract people into the church with “bait-and-switch”? Have you surrendered your whole life to Jesus, or are you one responding with, “First let me … then I will …”?