Evangelism versus Discipleship

Evangelism or Discipleship? For which will your church be known?

I have heard the debate before…do we want an evangelistic church or a disciple making church?

Which is more important: discipleship or evangelism, and where should a church put their energy and focus?

Are we to just go deep in discipleship where we go after “quality” or should a church go wide in “quantity” and sharing the Gospel and be a mile wide but only an inch deep?

I guess I have asked enough questions so let me answer this age old debate between evangelism and discipleship.

The answer to all the questions above is “yes.”  That’s right the answer is we must be intentional in doing both equally well, simultaneously, all the time, without fail, etc.

To win someone to Christ and not disciple them is shallow evangelism and not true to Scripture. 1 Peter 2:2 reads, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,”

After a person is born again he then begins to grow as he is discipled. If he does not grow he remains a baby in Christ and not a mature believer. Hebrews 5:13-14 says,

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

A person can grow old without growing up!

A disciple who does not share his faith is not a true disciple. 1 Peter 3:15 says,

but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

The beginning or front end of discipleship is salvation. A lost person cannot be discipled so evangelism and discipleship all fits together. Evangelism and discipleship are two sides of one coin, not two separate coins. As a friend of mine says it’s like getting a corn dog at the county fair.  The hot dog and the bun are all together and you can’t have one without the other. One component by itself would not be very satisfying. Evangelsim and discipleship are a perfect fit.  They are not in competition.

Jesus’ primary call to His disciples is seen in His words “Come to Me” (Matthew 11:28). That is evangelism, coming to salvation in Christ by faith. Then Jesus said “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19), that is discipleship. Mark records: “He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons” (Mark 3:14, 15). Jesus’ relationship with His disciples actually preceded His assignment to them.

Discipleship is the intensely personal activity of two or more persons helping and encouraging each other to experience a growing relationship with God and reach out to others as they share their faith. Discipleship is being before doing, maturity before ministry, character before career.

How is your church doing in evangelism and discipleship? You cannot do one without the other. Well you can but then you would not be a New Testament church!

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