The Divorce & Remarriage of Evangelism and Discipleship
April 5, 2018
Jesus constantly and seamlessly integrated evangelism and discipleship into his everyday actions and into the way he spiritually formed and shaped the 12 disciples.
I have often seen a false dichotomy emerge between evangelism and discipleship in many churches and with many Christians. Some individuals who emphasize evangelism seem to say things like, “If you aren’t sharing your faith regularly, how can you even call yourself a Christian?” Or at least, “How can you consider yourself a strong Christian?”
On the other side, people who focus on discipleship have often told me that they do not share their faith because evangelism is not their gift. Instead, they believe their gifts lie in the realm of discipleship and so that is where they focus.
This dichotomy is also apparent in churches and movements more broadly. Some churches and ministries have a laser focus on evangelism at the expense of discipleship, and the church ends up a mile wide and an inch deep. Other ministries have decided that they don’t want shallow Christians, so they spend all their time and energy emphasizing discipleship.
This, however, easily results in ‘coffee club’ or ‘Sunday school’ Christians (which one of these often depends on the generation!) who get together, drink coffee, study the Bible, and pray. While those are certainly important components of discipleship, this is only a partial picture.
A quick reminder from Jesus
Both sides are missing the point, because both sides have accepted the divorce of evangelism and discipleship. Ultimately, it’s a problem to separate the two, because Jesus didn’t separate them in his own life and ministry.
At the start of his ministry, Jesus’ opening salvo was to preach the kingdom, call Israel to repentance (evangelism), and gather a group of disciples to join his mission (discipleship). At the end …