Posted by: sdunnpastor | August 17, 2010

EVANGELISM AND DISCIPLESHIP

Dr. Steve Dunn, Director of the School of Evangelism and Lead pastor, Church of God of Landisville

Several years ago I began the delightful adventure of teaching in the ERC School of Evangelism.  The first class was a two-day offering on “The Theology of Evangelism.” Among my students was a young man in the Pastoral Training Event who stated emphatically that evangelism and discipleship were two different things.  “Evangelism is getting people to give their lives to Jesus Christ” and his further explanation basically boiled down to getting them to make a decision, i.e., “getting them saved.”  Discipleship to him was the less glamorous and less necessary work that followed.

I pretty much insulted him when I responded, “Evangelism without discipleship is partial-birth evangelism.”

That comment was not intended to be hyperbole.  The Great Commission speaks of “making disciples” not “making decisions.”  Too much of the emphasis of evangelism since the days of the Great Awakenings on the American frontier has been to get them to profess that Jesus is Lord and then moving on to the next lost soul. It is assembly-line thinking worthy of Henry Ford but hardly the kingdom goal of Jesus Christ.

Evangelism can be described as the work of reconciliation that leads to right relationship with GodBeing a New Creation, however, is not a separate reality from living as a New Creation. All babies are fully human at birth, but not fully the humans they were born to be until they mature into the interdependent persons they were created to be.  Discipleship is the completion of the work begun by evangelism. Without discipleship new believers remain infants, utterly dependent and completely exposed to the continuing sin in the world.  Without evangelism, however, discipleship is merely teaching people to behave like the real thing but it is only an outward show. Without evangelism a person does not have the Holy Spirit working in and through them because they are not yet a fit vessel for God.

Evangelism and discipleship are inseparable partners with the Holy Spirit in the “trinity” of making disciples of Jesus Christ.

Excerpted from WHAT IS THE GOSPEL? (c) 2010 by Stephen L Dunn

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Responses

  1. Love the “Jack Bauer” ad!


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