I’ve been in full-time ministry for 30 years now, and was involved in part-time ministry for 8 years prior to that. In those years, I’ve been involved in churches/ministries that were either highly discipleship oriented or highly evangelistic. Only a couple of churches had a pretty good balance of both.
Over the years it seems in “ministry world” that the pendulum swings from one to the other. If churches and ministries are really focused on evangelism for a few years, a trend usually happens that says we need more discipleship and vice versa, so people tend to move toward hyper-evangelism or hyper-discipleship.
The issue with these trends is that they neglect the fact that evangelism and discipleship are to go hand in hand.
A disciple is not just someone who studies, listens and learns – but someone who follows by doing – applying what is taught. A disciple of Jesus is not just someone who learns the Word of God, but someone who applies it (James 1:22). To follow Christ as a disciple is to be committed to His purpose, principles and commands. A few examples are Mt. 28:19-20, Mt. 22:37-40, Mt. 16:24, Acts 1:8, Luke 19:10, etc.
Any discipleship that turns a person inward and leaves out evangelism is psedo-discipleship. John 4:34-38 NLT 34 Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. 35 Do you think the work of harvesting will not begin until the summer ends four months from now? Look around you! Vast fields are ripening all around us and are ready now for the harvest. 36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! 37 You know the saying, ‘One person plants and someone else harvests.’ And it’s true. 38 I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and you will gather the harvest.”
This is just an intro, but over the next few weeks I plan to do a series of blogs related to the issue of discipleship and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.