Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Evangelism or Discipleship?

The great commission is "go and make disciples...teaching them everything I commanded."

When it comes to evangelism most Christians will nod their heads that it is the most important thing in the world to them. Truth be told, very few Christians share their faith with anyone. It's my guess as to why they will give money to an evangelist: it relieves their conscience. And many evangelists will remind Christians that it is their sacred duty to evangelize. That's code for give me your money and I will do your job.

The reality is that evangelists don't want people to evangelize. Hmm, 1.5 billion Christians in the world. Everyone reaches 1 person for Jesus this year. That makes 3 billion. That 3 billion reach 1 person each in the following year. That pretty well covers the entire population of the world. Oops, no more need for an evangelist. Therefore no more money either.

Discipleship is what we have been called to. And even in this calling we don't have to feel some terrible shame. Nor do we have to feel some terrible angst about not doing enough evangelism. It's as simple and difficult as raising a child. Don't do it as some planned activity. "Tonight is discipleship night." It really is more like being friends and sharing things that are important to you.

There is a lot of emphasis on evangelism (especially the fund raising part) and yet the real work is in discipleship. It seems that talking about and giving to evangelism is much easier than loving our neighbor as ourself.

The difference between the two is that evangelism is like making babies whereas discipleship is about fathering/mothering adult children.

The gospel is about living our lives together with Jesus at the centre. We must guard our hearts from turning Jesus it into a ideology to be proclaimed without the reality being part of our daily lives.

How many people should we disciple? If we all cared for 1 or 2 others once in a while, that would get the job done.


Anonymous said...

Evangelism vc Discipleship is a false dichotomy.

Who do we disciple? The unsaved? No, of course not.

But if we disciple the saved, how do they get saved? See Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19-20. What does Acts 1:8 say the purpose of the Holy Spirit is?

What did Jesus say His mission was? "To seek and save the lost".

Yes - we need to disciple the found, but we must first reach out to the lost.

One need not give money to any evangelist - one merely needs to go out and share their faith (Biblically) with the lost.

I have never paid an evangelist, but I go out into my community regularly and share my faith with - gasp! - strangers. I also lead a Bible study.

I evangelize AND disciple. Many of my brothers and sisters in Christ do likewise. And isn't THAT really what we are called to do?

David Grant said...

Great comment. I would suggest that discipleship is not something that begins when someone becomes a Christian. I'd say it begins the moment we come in contact with someone else.

Jesus said that our love for one another should let others know we are his disciples.

The sad reality is that this witness is not always there for others to see and many Christians have never shared their love for Jesus with others.

I'm glad you are sharing His love with others. Bless you in what you are doing.