Evangelism Needs Discipleship
November 2, 2008 · Print This Article
Evangelism Needs Discipleship
By Pastor Brent Matzen, Resurrection Life Church, Grandville
A recent survey sited by Alister McGrath stated that “73% believed that clergy failed to prepare congregations for challenges to their faith.” He later went on to say, “There is a real need for an apologetic ministry within the church for Christians who are unsure about their faith.” Through effective evangelism the church today has seen millions come to acknowledge Christ, yet still three out of four people feel that they have not been adequately equipped to face challenges that arise against their faith. Although they may have responded to an altar-call, they have not progressed beyond that point. The greatest need we face in churches today is discipleship.
Billy Graham realized this need early in his career. He developed a program to transition people from new converts to devoted followers. Graham developed the 3-part system: sermon, counseling, and follow-up. Today, we might call these: evangelism, discipleship, and community. Graham’s son, Franklin, testified to the need for this in his work, Rebel with a Cause, where he recounts that twelve years after making a “decision” for Christ, he needed to be born again. Why did Franklin feel the need to be born again following his decision? Even though he acknowledged Christ, he never began to have a relationship with Him.
As leaders within the church, we have the responsibility to take people further than the altar. Look at Deuteronomy 4:5-6,
“Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’”
Here we see Moses, the spiritual leader of Israel, teaching the Israelites how to live a life of devotion to the Lord. They have already been redeemed-taken out of Egypt-but now they are shown how to go to the next level. Moses said he would teach the Israelites all that God had commanded him. At Sinai, God gave Moses the Law so that the children of Israel would know how to follow after Him. Interestingly, Moses points out that when the followers of the LORD keep His commandments, the other nations will see their fruit and call them wise and understanding for obeying God’s statutes. Which we also see in Matthew 5:16 when Jesus said “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
In the church today there are people who need to be taught how to follow God, not just profess Him. Questions such as: Why is it important to read the bible? How does one have effective prayer? What is the purpose of tithe and offering? And other topics such as: What bible translation to use, church history, water baptism, and speaking in tongues are areas that need to be taught giving biblical proofs to their validity for the church. Just as we spend time laying out the gospel for salvation, we need to make sure that we are properly discipling laypersons to go deeper into their relationship with God.
Discipleship comes in many ways. For some it is incorporated into weekend services, for others during their midweek services. Some churches have gone beyond the traditional set-up and have implemented bible schools and discipleship classes on additional nights of the week. Regardless of the methodology used, we need to make sure that each person who makes a decision to follow Christ is being taken to the next level. We should also strive to encourage them to grow deeper in their new found faith and equip them with the necessary resources. As pastors, we can prepare the members of our churches to be discipled by spending time with God, studying the Word, and growing spiritually. This prepares us to instruct others. As good shepherds, we protect our flock from the enemy not by fighting their spiritual battles for them, but rather by giving them the tools needed to defeat the enemy’s attacks for themselves.