Where Does Evangelism End and Discipleship Begin?

Where does evangelism end and discipleship begin? Some would say the dividing line is salvation, but check out the Great Commission where Jesus says,

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20, ESV)

Did you see it? We make disciples by…baptizing them and teaching them to observe. Discipleship includes, even demands, evangelism. They are not separate. That are a seamless part of a relationship. Consider this:

Discipleship is a relationship that loves people to Jesus and nurtures them in Jesus.

The most natural person to invest in a new Christian is the person who led him/her to meet Jesus. While this is not always possible, it frequently is. The content of discipleship is Jesus and all that He has commanded us, and relationship is the medium and method.

Ultimately, discipleship leads the new disciple to do likewise:  love people to Jesus and nurture them in Jesus. How can we tell when our disciple is growing and effective as a disciple-maker? When he/she is loving people to Jesus and nurturing them in Jesus and they are doing likewise. In other words, Paul’s words to Timothy is our measure:

and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2, ESV)

Paul taught the commands of Jesus to Timothy who taught them to faithful men in such a way that they could teach them to others. The measure of Paul’s disciple-making ability was not in Timothy but in the effectiveness of Timothy’s disciples.

So where does evangelism end and discipleship begin? Actually they are interwoven. In evangelism, we love people to Jesus, and nurture them in Jesus. Then our nurturing leads our disciples to love others to Jesus and nurture them in Jesus. So evangelism is the beginning and the end result, and discipleship is the beginning and includes training and mobilization of disciples to start the process over again.

I want to challenge you to make evangelism and discipleship natural and intentional. Make them relational and purposeful. Prayerfully follow God’s lead. Make disciples. Make disciple-makers!

For more ideas about disciple-making, check out these blog posts:

One Comment

  1. This discussion has been very prvenleat in Canada for the last two years. There is a feeling among some that all this stuff gets in the way of doing evangelism and discipleship on campus. While I agree it is critical to meet with students face to face on campus and we never want to lose that, I’m concerned that the discussion leads to a dangerous polarization and unhealthy understanding of the big picture of building a movement on campus. At times, it comes across as the idea that the only real ministry is face to face with someone on campus.What is interesting to me is that as I have pounded the table asking, What should we stop doing so we can be on campus more? No one has ever given me an answer. People get frustrated by all these other things (a.k.a stuff ) that prevents them from real ministry but then will never give you a straight answer on what to cut nor do they stop doing any of these other time consuming things.The reality is that all of these things contribute to building a healthy local movement. We must see the big picture and the total cost of ownership here. Real ministry is not only meeting people on campus.Personally, I don’t think the answer is by necessarily cutting out stuff . I think the solution lies more in re-thinking how we structure, lead and staff a local ministry. Instead of creating polarizations about real ministry and the stuff that distracts us (which I’m not accusing you of but has happened in Canada) I think there are some deeper questions we need to ask.1. How can our staff work out of their strengths? Maybe we should through out the one-size fits all campus staff job description. Some people have a lid or 4 hours on campus a day. Others want more after 8.2. How can we engage volunteers more?3. What is the best way to structure a team to build a movement?4. What other skill sets and roles should be engaged on a local campus team besides just the guy who goes out to share his faith and lead Bible studies?5. How do we evaluate the effectiveness of all types of ministry activity and not just keep doing ineffective things?Lastly, I think it needs to be okay to have time to think, share, explore, network and do other things that aren’t necessarily life on life, but still contribute to movement building.From my perspective, the issue is more structural than a function of how a staff member spends their time.

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