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Evangelism or Discipleship: Which One is More Important?

God spoke to me while I was driving, through prayer, through His Word, and through some books that God had laid on my heart to read while I was on vacation.

The two main books that I read on my trip were Jesus+Nothing=Everything and The Explicit Gospel. Both books referred constantly to the book of Colossians, and both books mentioned Colossians 1:28, which says, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

Those words hit me like a ton of bricks.

We had been doing a great job at reaching lost people, but we were lacking in the area of discipleship and presenting everyone “mature in Christ.” It was Billy Graham that said, “This is why evangelism must be our continual priority, and this is why discipleship must be our goal.”

With all the junk that is going on in our church and all the spiritual growth that needs to happen, I realize that both are needed.

The question asked in the beginning is a loaded question. There’s not one right answer. It’s both/and.

Matt Chandler, in his new book, The Explicit Gospel, simply said, “The mission of the Church is evangelism and discipleship.” He also said the Great Commission was not “Go and make converts.” It is “Go and make disciples.”

Am I swinging too far in the other direction? No! I’m fighting to stay balanced right in the middle.

I’m still white-hot for evangelism, but I now see the need to mentor, counsel, shepherd, and disciple our people in the faith. I long for them to grow up and start chewing on the spiritual meat of our faith. I want to present them mature in Christ.

Guess what? It’s a win-win. I strongly believe that as they grow in their faith and become true disciples that they, too, will become white-hot about sharing their faith, and they will start helping us reach more people in our community.

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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.