If the church added 1,000 people each day it would eventually reach the entire world in 11,000 yrs. but if the church multiplied 1 disciple each year it would win the world in 33 yrs. This reality is one of the reasons why Robert Coleman’s book The Master Plan of Evangelism is so important. Below is a brief summary and evaluation.
In this book Robert Coleman argues that Jesus used his limited time to invest deeply in a few men in order to reach the rest of the world. Coleman summarizes the ministry plan of Christ with eight principles.
1) First, the principle of selection focuses on choosing a small group of people to disciple so that the group is more personal and there is greater the opportunity for effective instruction.
2) The second principle is called association. It is centered on daily and constant discipleship for new or immature believers to grow in their faith.
3) Consecration is the third principle Coleman brings up. The principle of consecration can be defined as being obedient or dedicated to following God’s word. Coleman explains that reading God’s word and obeying it will consecrate us.
4) The fourth principle, impartation, can be defined as passing on or conveying something or someone. The Holy Spirit has been imparted to us and He now passes on the truth and sanctifies all those who believe.
5) Coleman calls the fifth principle demonstration. The principle of demonstration is defined as displaying or revealing a message to make a point. Demonstrations act out the message that is trying to be given and help those who are learning actually see what is being said.
6) The next principle is delegation. Coleman explains that Jesus would hand over tasks and assignments so that more could be accomplished.
7) The seventh principle of Jesus’ ministry, supervision, describes a person who is in charge and is responsible to make sure that the job is getting done. There were many instances of “on the job” teaching with the disciples and that Jesus was constantly correcting them.
8) The final principle is reproduction. The principle of reproduction is defined as the repeating or imitating of an original person or thing. This method of evangelism is the method that Jesus taught and commanded us before he left the earth. Using the principle of reproduction for evangelism, thousands of people can come into contact with the gospel by only starting with one person.
This is an excellent book and one that I believe is a must read if you are trying to disciple someone. The three great contributions this book makes are:
(1) Coleman uses the life of Christ and his ministry example to explain what it means to make disciples of all nations. Following Christ’s pattern of investing in a few for the sake of the entire world is the method that I believe we should implement in the church.
(2) This book is very good at helping believers understand that evangelism and discipleship are inseparable. Humanly speaking, the end goal of evangelism is not getting someone saved; it is making them into disciples who will multiply.
(3) Coleman did a great job of sticking to the Scriptures and supporting all of his points from Scripture.
Although I do highly recommend this book and use it for discipleship relationships, it by no means tackles all that needs to be said about evangelism. A couple weaknesses of the book are:
(1) the book’s title could confuse some who are looking for a book to help them with sharing the gospel. The title makes you think it will be a book about how Jesus shared the gospel with non-believers. However, the entire book is really about how he chose twelve disciples and invested deeply into their lives.
(2) Some of the passages of Scripture that Coleman uses are often times not mainly about the point Coleman uses them for.