the shape of leadership

Discipleship and Evangelism Go Hand in Hand

A Q&A with Jason Bell

Chris Colvin on December 19, 2018

Jason Bell is Chi Alpha director at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

INFLUENCE: How did you get involved in Chi Alpha leadership?
BELL: I came to Sam Houston State University as a student in 1996 to study finance and never thought about getting into the ministry. I told my twin brother years before, “I love Jesus, and I’ll give to the Church, but I’m not cut out for ministry.”

Well, after four years, I found out I was.

As a student, I was in a dorm that was pretty spiritually dark, but I found out I could be a light and influence on those who lived there. When a fellow student, who I invited to Chi Alpha, got saved, he told me, “Thank you. This has forever changed my life.”

I thought of no better return on investment, so I left my studies in finance behind.

What is the role of discipleship within Chi Alpha where you are?
We are hungry and thirsty to make disciples. What God does in us He wants to do through us. And the heart of discipleship is taking responsibility for what is dear to God. As a staff, we take that responsibility seriously, so we share it with those we lead.

The heart of discipleship is taking responsibility for what is dear to God.
— Jason Bell

Matthew 28:19 says to make disciples, not converts. When we first meet students on campus, when they show up for school, they may be new to us, but we have to make them feel like part of the family. So, we get interested in what they’re interested in, but there’s no transition from those conversations into faith conversations. It’s all the same conversation. If you love God, you’ll know His attributes and talk about them all the time.

Does that mean discipleship and evangelism go hand in hand?
Absolutely. I don’t think you can divide those two things; they both need to happen together. Our large group meetings average 800 people. Students come not because they heard about it but because a leader brought them. Our leaders go out, meet people, and develop relationships, and then bring them to Christ. That’s really the formula for discipleship.

We have roughly 200 small groups that range from four to six people in each group. That’s over 1,000 people — and roughly half of them are unsaved. We are all in it together.

How does the discipleship process work within your small groups?
We spell it out in three ways. First, do students have a real devotional life? In other words, what are they reading that helps them learn to love God? Next, are they experiencing real relationships? That means having friendships where they don’t just eat pizza, but they feed each other from those shared devotional lives. And third, are students taking real responsibility? As leaders, we try to create a passion to keep doing this, and our students are picking up on it.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2018 edition of Influence magazine.

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