Making disciples of US college students

Share This Post

Our God specializes in making beauty from ashes, raising the dead to life and turning persecutors into apostles for his glory.

As a college student in the 1970s, Jeff Lewis went with his friends to break up a meeting. He didn’t know that the people in the meeting were Christians, and he certainly didn’t know God would call him to become one of them that night.

“As soon as I walked in the door,” he recalls, “I knew they had something I didn’t have.”

“You didn’t have to convince me that I was a sinner; that was obvious,” says Jeff. “I basically said, ‘Lord, if you really exist, I’m yours. Just take control.’ I woke up the next morning with a sense of fullness that I had been on a search for.”

The next week, Jeff returned to that same meeting looking for guidance as a new believer. He was introduced to Gary who would pour his life into Jeff for the next 18 months.

Jeff Lewis at IWMC
“My life of discipleship started June of 1971,” says Jeff, “and has been going on 44 years now.”

Jeff hadn’t grown up in a Christian home, and he used to find the Bible boring. He struggled with hopelessness. Today, by God’s grace and power, Jeff has become a disciple of Jesus and says he has helped disciple some 300 people, many of them American college students. He also has started two churches using a discipleship model.

God's Heart for the NationsShortly after God saved him, Jeff began to study what God’s word says about the nations, coming to learn that “discipleship must be done in a global context or it’s not biblical discipleship,” he says. He published in 1998 and revised earlier this year a Bible study called God’s Heart for the Nations and, since 1997, has developed and taught an Intro to Global Studies course dealing with two topics: global context of the Christian faith and the kingdom of God.

Discipleship through every sphere of society

“I was quickly convinced that the way you disciple the nations is through the marketable skill sets of God’s people who have entered the domains of society and disciple within the context of those domains,” says Jeff.

At the DNA, we likewise believe that whole nations are transformed from the inside out as disciples of Jesus live intentionally from a biblical worldview seven days a week in whichever spheres of society God has placed them.

While this concept is gaining more favor among Christians today, Jeff has been teaching it since the mid-90s in his course Marketplace Strategies for Global Advancement. “My missionary friends thought I was crazy,” he says. “I really felt like a lone ranger.”

Discipling Nations
as a textbook offers foundational principles, not a program

As a professor at California Baptist University, Jeff has been using Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Cultures as a required text since it was first published in 1998.

Jeff reads through Discipling Nations with his small classes–only about 15 students at a time–to help them construct a firm grounding in biblical worldview and their roles as culture makers. Not surprisingly, he finds the book especially helpful for students who have done international service projects or missions trips. He says that Applied Theology students, meanwhile, have the most trouble connecting the book with their own discipleship journeys.

“Hardly anyone talks about worldview shift; it’s just ‘Add Jesus onto your worldview,’” Jeff says of most modern discipling models. “But the core of Paul was worldview shift! I just have [the students] for that brief little time, and I want to give them some foundational discipleship principles that they can adapt to situations.”

Jeff insists he is not presenting to his students a program or a specific mold to squeeze themselves into, while those can be most appealing to students and teachers alike. Rigid models actually can inhibit growth, he says. “If you stay within a very rigid model, and if you don’t start breaking away when you see faithfulness so that it can be further developed, it will ultimately come to a point of stagnation.”

Jeff Lewis

The point, Jeff says, is to facilitate biblical discovery for young Christians–to help them not to be swept up by the newest popular book but to return constantly to God’s Word. If anything, Jeff says, “we need more materials that cause them to dig deeper [into the Bible] so that they’re developing the convictions they’ll die for.”

Marie King read Discipling Nations in Jeff’s Models of Discipleship class. “This class and the combination of books we read really equipped me to develop my own model for discipleship based on scripture,” she says.

“This was the only book we studied that considered worldview and how that affected our ability to make disciples,” says Marie. “This was huge for me! I had never thought of how essential this was to consider. I remember this book really putting a practical global context into the basics.”I want to live overseas and work in a urban city where few believers live, and I know this book will provide key insights into those pursuits. This book also helped make me more aware of the biases I fail to see when I ‘bring’ the gospel into areas of the world that are different than my own.”

You may contact Jeff at jlewis@calbaptist.edu.

Learned something new? Have a question? Enjoying this post? Let us know!

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Like what you're reading?

Subscribe to the DNA blog and get updates directly in your inbox.


Podcast Episodes

Gender Unity and Diversity with Lisa and Nelson Monteiro

In his forthcoming book, “The Grand Design,” Darrow Miller explains how as image bearers of God, both male and female are equal in value and dignity, while also beautifully designed with unique roles and functions. Today we are joined by our good friends Lisa and Nelson Monteiro, who have both played integral roles in The Grand Design course and book creation. Because the Monteiros have lived in both Brazil and Canada, they have a unique perspective on the way cultural views of men and women can be helpful or damaging. You’ll hear about the tears, conversations, and behind-the-scenes stories that led to the creation of The Grand Design book and course. Join us as we explore the transformative power of truth and the unique challenges and opportunities of ministry in cultures rooted in sexism or feminism.

Disciple Nations Alliance News

Job Opening for Accounting Associate/Office Manager

The DNA is Now Hiring for an Accounting Associate/Office Manager Apply Now! Summary This full-time (40 hours/week) position provides oversight to all financial transactions, manages payroll,

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

Let's have a chat

Learn how we helped 100 top brands gain success.