Evangelism AND Discipleship!
Have you ever watched a pendulum swing. I stood once in a store that had a small desktop pendulum for sale and watched it swing for quite some time. Long enough for the salesperson to speak to me multiple times. I was fascinated watching it’s continuous back and forth motion. I’m still fascinated with that kind of phenomenon. But it is more focused on trends now. What is in favor at one point in time fades and something else takes it place. Occasionally what swung out of favor returns again. I’ve thought about this phenomenon recently in regards to evangelism and discipleship. In recent years we in the church have renewed our focus on the ‘making of disciples;’ and rightly so. We’ve been pretty bad at it for long time. After all, it’s the call to make disciples that Jesus gives us in Matthew 28:19-20 right?
“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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:19–20 NRSV)
And I love Mike Breen’s statement, a paraphrase of which is: “If you focus on building a church you won’t necessarily get disciples of Jesus, but if you focus on the making of disciples you will ultimately get a church.” Recently I’ve seen the following phrase pop up in many places, “You were called to make disciples not converts.” I agree with all of that. Absolutely. Without question, we are called to make disciples. But I wonder sometimes if the pendulum has swung a bit too far. I wonder if we are using the call to make disciples as an excuse for ignoring evangelism.
Evangelism is a call as well. In fact, I would say that conversion is an essential step in authentic discipleship. Admittedly, in our past we often settled for conversion without further discipleship. We are right to hear the need correction here; discipleship is the goal. Yet, conversion, justification, ‘getting saved’ is still a necessary step in our discipleship process. One cannot move on to authentic discipleship if they have never professed faith in Jesus.
“because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.” (Romans 10:9–10 NRSV)
Some questions for us all to consider:
1. In your church’s discipleship process, where do you ask the evangelistic question?
2. How will you weave into your ministry the evangelistic task?
3. What keeps you, and your church, from presenting Jesus’ call to come follow him?
Maybe it’s time for us to stop the pendulum swinging.
Maybe it’s time for us to stop making excuses and start presenting Jesus as the hope of the world.
Maybe it’s time to remember that there is salvation in no other name:
“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”” (Acts 4:12 NRSV)
Grace and Peace,