Evangelize: to convert an area or group to different religion, especially Christianity.
Evangelism was the answer, we thought. Preaching the good news and thousands making a decision. Evangelism gets the message of the good news out. Important? A resounding, “yes!” Preach the good news! Speak boldly about sin, repentance and the forgiveness and hope found in Jesus. God has a message for His people.
What do we do after they hear? Therein lies the problem. So many coming to Jesus yet not knowing what to do with what they had heard. Nobody to teach them, and no one to learn from. Get them saved, get them baptized and send them on their way with a pat on the back and an, “I’ll be praying for you!” This alone is not the answer. Where do we find the love, the help, the growth and companionship in this?
“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” James 2
Now God, speaking through His Word and by the power of the Holy Spirit to many Godly men and women has given us many books, Bible studies and conferences to change our way of thinking from evangelism, to discipleship and community. God has a message for His people.
We need each other. God designed it that way. One of us cannot function without the other. As the body of Christ, we rejoice together, grieve together, bear one another’s burdens. We need community, discipleship.
Discipleship: one who assists in the spreading and teachings of another.
Discipleship is the answer. We think.
We see, in the life of Christ, this example. He is part of the trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Community. He called the twelve disciples. Community. He visited, ate with, wept with, healed and taught many, many others. Community. Discipleship.
The hole in the gospel of evangelism was lack of love, discipleship and community.
Though I see a trend, that if we are not intentional, could become the hole in the gospel of community and discipleship.
With evangelism we were all speech and no love. With discipleship I fear we may become all love and no speech.
Now, it is obvious that in our “Christian” circles we talk about it. We should! Iron sharpens iron. But do we? Though my concern is not really for those of us that are already on the journey together, but for those that aren’t. As we are going, are we actually making disciples? Are we loving, serving, meeting needs AND talking about Jesus? We need to be doing all of the above!
If we simply preach the good news and do not love, serve or meet any needs we aren’t making disciples. We are being hypocrites. If we are simply really nice, loving, giving and kind but don’t talk about Jesus or His word we aren’t making disciples. Just producing more really nice people that know how to love, give and serve.
Through loving, serving and meeting needs there can be opportunities presented where the timing is right to share Jesus with a person based on the relationship that has been built. I understand that. Let us be sure though that this doesn’t become an excuse for negligence.
I recently watched a podcast posted by Francis Chan and David Platt where they discussed this “action vs. negligence.” My paraphrase of their discussion, “we need to assume action instead of assuming negligence. If we know a person that doesn’t know Jesus, we need not assume negligence and say, “well, if God gives me a special sign, or feeling, then I will talk to them about you God.” But rather, based on scripture, we should assume God wants us to tell that person about Him! Unless, God gives us specific direction NOT to!”
Don’t be tricked into believing that we have to show people how awesome we are before we can introduce them to our not-as-awesome savior. Ouch! Harsh words? Yes. Would we ever say this or even think this way? No. Not intentionally. Though that is what our actions speak.
“Good works can serve, but only good news can save.” ~Mark Driscoll
I say all this not to condemn but to encourage! Love and speak! Jesus did! Peter did! Paul did! The list goes on! They loved, they served, they gave AND they spoke about sin, repentance, forgiveness, hope and the kingdom of God! Let us love, serve AND speak boldly!
Jesus was once asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” He replied, “Love God, and the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22
Then, before Jesus ascended into heaven, he gave us the great commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28
How we are to live as believers can be summed up in these three commands: love God, love others, and make disciples. Let us do ALL of the above through love, and by God’s grace. Then, may there be no hole in the gospel that we present.
Be an evangelist? Be and make disciples? Live in community? This doesn’t have to be an ultimatum. What I am saying is this, simply be like Jesus.