My previous post generated some great discussion, ranging from "Can't we all just get along" comments to sentiments of "If we just practiced discipleship, evangelism would take care of itself." Others seemed surprised that anyone in their right (renewed) mind would ever try to separate the two because they clearly go together.
Allow me to introduce a perspective into the ongoing conversation (or in some tribes and cultures, the battle!) between those who favor one over the other.
IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
If you and I were having coffee and I wanted to see where you stood on this issue, I would ask you the following questions...
1. Do you enjoy sharing your story of coming to faith in Christ with people? Friends? Strangers? Does that energize you?
2. Do you prefer spending time with a new Christian reading the Bible, working through a book, and discussing their new faith?
3. Are you constantly looking for ways to talk about God in conversations at work, school, the gym, etc?
4. When you hear about someone who has responded to the gospel (at church or an event or in private) is your first reaction "YES!!! Praise God!" or is your first reaction, "I wonder who is going to follow up with them now that they have made a profession of faith in Christ?"
5. Do you most often find yourself praying for people that are not Christians to repent and believe in Christ, or do you most often pray for the church to grow, new believers to mature in their faith, and for believers to go deeper in the walk with Jesus?
6. When you think of "witnessing" or "sharing your testimony" with others, does it make you feel awkward and nervous, or does it excite and inspire you?
7. Do you secretly doubt that big numbers of people can honestly be saved all at once?
8. Do you secretly think those who emphasize discipleship are lazy, lack boldness, or are just plain scared?
I think the real issue behind our tendency to pick EVANGELISM or DISCIPLESHIP over one another is, at the end of the day, not so much about doctrine or theology, but it is much more about personal preference; the way we are wired and gifted by God.
This is a blind spot for each of us, myself included. Here is what I mean...
I am an extreme extrovert. I love people and I never meet a stranger. I can talk to anyone about anything, even if I am in another country. When I see people, I see lost people that God loves and that Jesus died for. I want to meet them, strike up a conversation, turn that conversation toward God somehow, share my story with them, and plant a seed of God's love in their hearts.
I have a good friend who is an introvert. He's been in ministry for 20 years. He feels weird doing what I do, the way I do it, when I talk to folks aobut Jesus. He loves to take immature Christians and prepare them to be light in a dark world. He teaches well in small settings. He has discipled dozens of believers one on one, and many of them are in full time ministry (both inside and outside church structures).
Am I a better Christian than him because it's easier for me to share my faith?
Is he a better Christian than me because he has made more disciples than I have?
In your gut, which one of these do you prefer? Which do you naturally gravitate toward?
Round 3 is coming tomorrow...