Home Outreach Leaders Articles for Outreach & Missions Evangelism or Discipleship: Which One is More Important?

Evangelism or Discipleship: Which One is More Important?

It’s the question asked over coffee, behind closed doors, and in conversations at conferences. For me, it was an interview question at the church I currently serve: “Are you more of an evangelism guy or a discipleship guy?”

The “correct” answer was evangelism (which I answered at the time). Several months later, we were hiring another campus pastor for our North Campus, and as we interviewed various candidates, we would ask them the same question, always looking for guys that leaned toward evangelism.

At the time, I could genuinely answer “evangelism” because my heart bleeds for the lost (it still does). I’ve been working on a message on Luke 15 and the “lost parables” (lost sheep, lost coin, lost son) for over a year. I plan on preaching it sometime in the future at my campus. I’m passionate about reaching the lost.

The problem is with the presupposition that there is only one correct answer or with the assumption that you have to choose between the two, as if they opposed each other.

My background is unique. I’ve been a worship guy, a tech guy, a social media guy, and a consultant (to all of which I brought a pastor’s heart to the role). About a year and a half ago, I realized my right fit and calling in life was to be a campus pastor at a multi-site church. I have a pastor’s heart, strong leadership gifts, along with administration, shepherding, and evangelism gifts. I knew I wanted to lead a church (or a campus), but not preach regularly. All of that is for another article.

My point is after nearly two decades of vocational ministry and a change in position to that of a pastor and overseer of a congregation, my heart has changed on this issue.

The more I deal with people, issues, sin, marriages, divorce, adultery, addictions and all the mess that I shepherd and counsel people about, the more I see a necessary need for people to be discipled.

As I mentioned earlier, my church is highly evangelistic – always has been. We have a very evangelistic lead pastor, and I thank God for him and his passion to see the lost come to know Christ.

When you take an evangelistic pastor and a team of lay leaders and staff that strive to reach their community for Christ, you end up with a lot of new Christians or baby believers (praise God!). My campus is four years old, and one-third of our campus has been led to Christ here and baptized over the last four years. I thank God for that.

However, I recently went away on a much-needed vacation, and I packed in several appointments and counseling sessions before I left to make sure everyone I was concerned about was going to be okay while I was gone for two weeks. While I was away and unplugged from work and the world, God began to speak to me.

Previous articleThe Four-Fold Price of Truth
Next articleThis History of You
Greg Atkinson is an author, speaker, consultant, and the Founder of the First Impressions Conference and Worship Impressions—both specializing in guest services and hospitality.