Today I want to tackle something that has been on my heart and mind for a long time but haven’t really known how to approach it because I know what the response will be from some.

Before I begin please understand I believe evangelism to be the responsibility of every believer. Having said that I don’t believe we are all evangelists. We should all be ready to answer anyone who asks about the hope we possess. The primary way we cause people to ask is to “Set Christ apart as Lord in our hearts” and when we are asked we must answer “with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience” 1 Peter 3:15-16.

With that preface here is my premise:

We have emphasized evangelism at the cost of making disciples.

We have all heard the “great commission” so many times we can recite it verbatim. Or can we? We know the part about “go”. but do we know the whole passage, Matthew 28:18-20, and the context?

Jesus did say go but the last thing He said was not go but wait. That’s right wait. Jesus last words are not recorded in Matthew 28, they are recorded in Acts 1.

“While he (Jesus) was with them (the apostles), he declared, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait there for what my Father promised, which you heard about from me.” Acts 1:4

Why wait? times a wastin! people are going to hell! the devil isn’t waiting!!!

Jesus gives the reason in both Mathew 28 and Acts 1.

Matthew 28:18, Jesus said “all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me”, 20 “and lo, I am with you always.
Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you”

Have we so overemphasized evangelism that we have actually hindered the work of evangelism?

One of my favorite authors and preachers A.W. Tozer suggests that may be the case. In his devotional he states:

“The popular notion that the first obligation of the church is to spread the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth is false. Her first obligation is to be spiritually worthy to spread it.”

When we go out of obligation and of our own strength believing we must “go” we can spread a “degenerate brand of Christianity to pagan lands” which does not fulfill the command of Christ. He never said make converts He said “make disciples” and a disciple who has “set Christ apart as Lord in his heart” will evoke the question, “what is it about you?” and that same person will be able to answer “with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience”.

Again please don’t misunderstand. There may be a place for the person at the mall passing out tracks. however if all of us were setting Christ apart in our hearts and communication with those entrusted to us with courtesy and respect how much more effective would we be making disciples?

I also believe if we are all walking in the fullness of our calling, being who God has called and created us to be, the church would grow. Ephesians 4:15-16 says as much:

When we all grow up in “Christ who is the head from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according the the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

Paraphrase: When we are all walking in the fullness of our gifts and calling the church will grow.

A.W. Tozer points out Jesus chilling words in Matthew 23:15:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”

Are we living our lives in such a way we can say “follow me as I follow Christ”? I know I could grow in that area. Please pray with me for the church to get a revelation of her primary purpose.

Blessings,

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Gary Trobee is a certified coach and a seasoned leader with over 20 years’ experience mentoring, coaching, and encouraging leaders and their teams.

3 Comments

  • At 2010.01.08 18:17, Debi Moore said:

    If we each did our job to grow a disciple, evangelism would take care of itself. We have people with half knowledge, or little knowledge of the Word trying to change the world and then get burned and frustrated, often turning back to the old self. They have not been equipped with the proper knowledge or tools and as we know "A little knowledge is a DANGEROUS thing!"
    This is our responsibility as the Church and as brothers and sisters in Christ to disciple. We raise our children….which takes many years, so they can make it on their own and hopefully be godly adults, so why do we not do this with our new brothers and sisters?
    Why has teaching the Word become so hard for many pastors, yet they spread themselves thin trying to reach their whole town or community through evangelism ? The flock is suffering in each pasture and so is the church as a whole!
    Matt 4:19 "And He said to them, "Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men."
    They were not just instant "fishers of men" . He said He would make them into fishers of men. I don't think, in those days, there was such a thing as "catch and release". He only choose 12 and He discipled them ….it was a process in which Christ was fully committed.
    Great thought you gave, Gary. It gives us much to think about and pray about…..each one of us.

    • At 2010.01.08 18:41, Pastor Dave said:

      Gary, First of all we have to acknowledge that WE are not the ones that save people. Jesus is the only One who is in the saving business. For me, that takes the pressure of being 'successful' off my shoulders. I think another one of the problems with our notion of evangelism is that we think it is an event. We've been taught or trained or in some way we've come to the conclusion that the 'ask' is what real evangelism is. When the reality of Scripture is that it's a process. And it's a process that all of us can be involved in (no matter what our maturity level in Him is). That's why each 'part' of the body is important. If the 'ask' were truly evangelism then all of us would have the gift of 'evangelism.' Bottom line is, at some point, someone is probably going to make the 'ask.' But there has already been much work done, as the 'process' of evangelism has taken place. Jesus' words in John 4:37-38 explains this point. "Thus the saying 'One sows and another reaps' is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor." Evangelism is a process, and each one of us can be a part of someone's process of coming to Christ. No matter what our knowledge as a disciple is. Praise God for the 'body' of Christ. A body where everybody is somebody.

      Pastor Dave

      • At 2010.01.08 18:57, Gary said:

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments,

        I appreciate the broader context and I love your final comment:

        "Praise God for the "body" of Christ. A body where everybody is somebody"

        Blessings and thanks for the contribution.

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