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: