2 Necessities for Health in Discipleship AND Evangelism

Which is more important discipleship or evangelism? It’s not a trick question, but it is a difficult one in practice. Every church leader has a unique wiring that creates a personal bias toward either discipleship or evangelism. And each church, therefore, quickly reveals an emphasis toward one or the other. This is also true for departments and teams.

Matthew 28:19-20 makes the general mission of the church clear, “make disciples”, but that inherently includes evangelism. Without people coming to faith, there is no one to train in their faith. We can quickly argue biblically that this is a both and not either or issue. Fair enough. But if you want to answer this question honestly, you must consider the patterns, habits and results of the ministry practices in your church. We all need to do this.

Simply ask the question in the context of your church. How many are coming to faith in comparison to how many are being nurtured in their faith? This is the great caution, be careful not to justify discipleship because of the absence of evangelism. Our devotion to spiritual formation is most healthy when it is the response to people finding faith in Jesus.

One thing we have learned for certain is that there is a natural gravitational pull in every church toward discipleship. With minimal intentionality, discipleship (spiritual formation) will occur. Evangelism, however, will not consistently happen without great discipline, effort and intentionality.

So what can we extract from these considerations?

1) It is necessary to make evangelism a priority.

Evangelism needs to be the priority not because it’s more important, but because if it isn’t it quickly becomes weak and can slide to a nominal position and practice in any church. Evangelism, unlike discipleship is not the natural pattern of the church. It is, however, the cutting edge that helps you take new territory.

Keep it simple. 16 classes in how to share your faith over complicate the matter. Cast vision for your congregation to make friends and invite them to church. That’s it. Let it happen in a natural lifestyle way. Of course there is no “wrong” way to approach evangelism, but some are more effective than others within your community and culture. The bottom line is make evangelism a priority, from local compassion to inviting friends, keep it the focus.

2) It is necessary to strive for quality and life change in discipleship.

While we acknowledge that in nearly all churches spiritual formation is happening, it’s not true that it’s always of high quality and effective.

Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • Are your small groups working? Do you have stories of life change?
  • How about new Christians? What do you have in place? Are you happy with the process?
  • Are baptisms a regular part of your congregational life?
  • Is serving (volunteering for ministry) vibrant and widespread?
  • Is prayer vital, core and prevalent in your church?
  • Is worship robust and alive?
  • Are people growing or just repeating the process over and over again?

Discipleship or evangelism is an age-old question.  Hopefully you and I can give some fresh new answers.

Read more from Dan.


 

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Discipleship >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.