In their book Untamed, Alan and Debra Hirsch talk about a time when their small community of believers was building relationships with a group of prostitutes. They would knit clothes, provide food and more for these "working girls." They write, "Our intention with these women was ultimately for them to know Jesus. So we began to disciple them. Did they know we were doing that? Absolutely not—I doubt they would have come at all if they did. Rather, our discipling of them was to expose them to the values of the kingdom and the heart of Jesus for the outcast. These women knew that we were believers, but we never abused our relationship with them by imposing our views or inappropriately "evangelizing" them in the narrow understanding of this term. We exposed their hearts to the issues of injustice and serving others, and helped put the poor on their radar. Most of these women started as professional women concerned with becoming affluent, getting bigger and better homes, and living more comfortable lifestyles. Discipling for them meant that over time they began to look more like Jesus by embracing values that were more in line with the kingdom, and as this transformation began questions about God and Jesus started taking place." (pg 148-149)
The authors contend that we make a mistake by keeping discipling limited to followers of Christ. It's as though we consider everything pre-conversion as evangelism and everything post-conversion as discipleship. Yet they say, "Discipleship is not just for those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior—it's for everyone! We believe it is a great mistake to restrict discipling to just Christians and keep it within the confines of the Christian community. We as believers are called to disciple everyone who comes into our orbit of influence."
What say you?