Have you recently listened to a medication commercial? They start off by telling you all the fantastic things the medication can do, but after about three sentences the spokesperson begins to speak incredibly fast about all of the side effects. Generally, these effects are not good. One trick the commercials use is showing the people on screen in fun situations and happy as can be while the voice-over is clarifying the sometimes awful side effects that will take place.
Sadly, this reminds me of how many believers share the gospel.
What Everyone Is Afraid to Say About Evangelism
Don’t want to spend eternity burning in hell? Want to feel secure when you do risky things knowing that when you die, you’ll be good to go? Trust in Jesus! It’s easy and lasts forever! And just like the medication commercials, we tend to gloss over the side effects. Just listen to the voice-over: Followers of Jesus often experience trials and tribulations. They are hated for the sake of Christ. The road is narrow, the gate is small and you must die daily to self, take up your cross and follow Him.
Every mature believer should be an evangelist, sharing their faith and leading others to understand and accept the gift of salvation by grace through faith. But we must not stop there. The Great Commission doesn’t stop there. After the going, and the making, and the baptizing of disciples in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there is another element to making disciples: Teach them to observe all I have commanded you.
Sharing a gospel that saves us from eternal separation from God is easy. Sharing a gospel that requires us to die to ourselves is more difficult, but that doesn’t make it less true. Have we sacrificed biblical disciplemaking on the altar of easy believe-ism? Have we turned the sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ into a sales pitch that you “just can’t say no to” so we can celebrate like we’re moving a product? Have we reduced following Jesus to a massive multi-level-marketing scheme?
Perhaps what we’re afraid to say about evangelism is that it’s much more than a sales pitch. It is much more than a box we check as we go about our lives as believers. Sharing the gospel should absolutely be a significant part of every Christ follower’s life, but we are kidding ourselves if we believe that it is a metric for success when it comes to fulfilling the Great Commission. Leading people to Christ is part of it, but not all of it. Helping people understand God’s word is equally crucial to making disciples. If we miss that, then we will leave these new believers to live as spiritual infants who never grow and never experience the fullness of the life of a disciple of Christ.
And I’ll bet your numbers show this to be true.
Here is a practical exercise you can try to determine how effective your disciplemaking has been. Take the numbers of decisions or baptisms per year and contrast those with the number of people weekly attending your church. For example, if your church baptized 50 people last year, did your worship services grow by at least that number? Take it a step further and look at multiple years. To be more precise, look at the names of the people and see if those people are plugged into your church or any church for that matter. I realize this metric is not the end-all for success in evangelism or discipleship, but it is one way we can provide a clear picture of our effectiveness of maturing disciples.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say that a focus on discipleship lessens the emphasis on evangelism in churches. I’ve heard the lie that discipleship is all about a group of people just getting together in a holy huddle with no desire to reach the world. The truth is that people who understand God’s word to the point where they are observing what Jesus commanded will share the gospel more frequently and effectively than those who have merely punched a salvation ticket. They will attend more, give more, serve more and share their faith more.
This article originally appeared here.