Summary of The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman

What is “The Master Plan”?

Based on the way Jesus interacted with His disciples, Robert Coleman discerned 8 principles that make up Jesus’ master plan, that is, “God’s strategy of world conquest” (19).

To summarize, I’ve narrowed down Coleman’s 8 principles into 3:

1st Principle: Selection

“You did not choose me but I chose you” (John 15:16).

“He chose from them twelve” (Luke 6:13).

Jesus selected the Twelve with precision. While not neglecting the multitudes, Jesus deliberately chose to concentrate His life on just a select group of people.

“His concern was not with programs to reach the multitudes, but with men whom the multitudes would follow… Men were to be his method of winning the world to God” (21).

These men were not selected due to any prestigious position in society or any moral superiority but rather their willingness to obediently follow Jesus and their potential for leadership.

As the ministry expanded, there was both a rapidly diminishing priority given to those outside of the Twelve & a greater priority given to forming three men: Peter, James, and John.

It’s a form of favouritism but done out of a genuine love for the whole church: “Everything that is done with the few is for the salvation of the multitudes” (33).

“It will be slow, tedious, painful, and probably unnoticed by people at first, but the end result will be glorious, even if we don’t live to see it. Seen this way, though, it becomes a big decision in the ministry. We must decide where we want our ministry to count – in the momentary applause of popular recognition or in the reproduction of our lives in a few chosen people who will carry on our work after we have gone. Really it is a question of which generation we are living for” (35).

2nd Principle: Demonstration

“Behold, I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20).

“I have given you an example” (John 13:15).

Jesus’ plan was incredibly simple: “Follow me” (Matthew 4:19).

Rather than hand them a manual for Christian life, Jesus lived before them as a model they could follow. Jesus was constantly with his disciples, confident that “in his presence they could learn all that they needed to know” (35).

“Jesus actually spent more time with his disciples than with everybody else in the world put together” (42).

Even when Jesus ministered to the masses, the disciples were close at hand to observe and to listen. Think about all the times the disciples recall how Jesus went off to pray (i.e., we need our disciples to see us pray as well).

They were his spiritual children and the only way that a father can properly raise a family is to be with it.

Rather than focus on preaching to the masses or training classes, we need to focus on constant personal attention to our disciples, much like a father gives to his children.

“After all, if Jesus, the Son of God, found it necessary to stay almost constantly with his few disciples for three years, and even one of them was lost, how can a church expect to do this job on an assembly line basis a few days out of the year?” (47).

“This means that some system must be found whereby every new convert is given a Christian friend to follow until such time as he or she can lead another” (48).

If we are to continue that impact that Jesus had on His disciples, we must first have the life of Christ in us (i.e., we cannot give what we do not first possess ourselves).

Remember, evangelization is a divine project and this super-human work demands super-natural help.

Jesus did not ask anyone to do or be anything that he had not demonstrated first in his own life, thereby not only proving its workability but also its relevance to his mission in life. And this he was able to do because he was constantly with his disciples.

3rd Principle: Reproduction

Jesus delegated His power and authority to the apostles (the 6th principle) to carry on the same work that Jesus had done – to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:20).

After sending the disciples to do the work of ministry, Jesus collected them again to give instruction. This back and forth between ministry and assessment – a process of experience, review, and application – shows us Jesus’ method for supervision (the 7th principle).

In this work of reproduction (the 8th principle), Jesus was a master at on-the-job training.

“Jesus would let his followers have some experience or make some observation of their own, and then he would use this as a starting point to teach a lesson of discipleship” (96).

We don’t need better methods but better men and women. “Finding and training people to reach people must have priority” (113).

Give them gradually increasing responsibilities and give them something to do that requires the best that is in them.

“Here finally is where we must evaluate the contribution that our life and witness is making to the supreme purpose of him who is the Saviour of the world. Are those who have followed us to Christ now leading others to him and teaching them to make disciples like ourselves?” (105).

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