Two very important categories of ministry are evangelism and discipleship. Consider the often quoted, rarely obeyed words of Jesus, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt.28:19-20). I like to say that evangelism is making disciples and discipleship is discipling disciples, teaching them to honor God’s design for life on earth.
There are two types of people in the world. There are those who have set their heart on loving and pleasing God and those who have not. Those who have the ultimate purpose of loving and pleasing God are candidates for discipleship. Those who do not have the ultimate purpose of loving and pleasing God are subjects of evangelism. Notice I did not say, “Those who go to church and those who do not” or “Those who are religious and those who are not.” Many religious people who go to church are yet subjects of evangelism.
Simply stated, evangelism involves using various means, methods and measures to move a person who does not love God with all their heart to do so. This is a complex task because people (moral agents) and love are very complex. There are at least five things that are always involved in this task – God (the Holy Spirit), the Christian worker, the sinner, truth and love (speaking the truth in love). Evangelism is not simply trying to convince a person to give Jesus permission to take them to heaven when they die. Evangelism involves leading a person to repentance. It should be noted that there are many words and phrases used in this paragraph that require clarification and definition. This will be the task of upcoming articles.
Discipleship is the process of teaching those who have a heart and hunger to know, love and please God to do so as effectively as possible. You cannot disciple an unconverted person. A central area of study in this process is the study of God, theology. Of course, we are not simply talking about filling our heads with bits of information. We are speaking of getting to know God intellectually and relationally, but growing in accurate knowledge of Him is crucial. Further, we attempt to learn and then teach others how to live life on an individual and corporate level according to God’s intended design. This involves all areas of life. It seems there are few disciples, people eager to learn with the right motive of heart. Such things will be the topic of future articles at Comprehensium.
Humbly seeking the help of God, we must help people have a change of heart, change of mind and a changed life as we labor to change the world for the glory of God.