If I told you that God wants you and every single other Christian to make disciples…what would you think is required of you to do that?
Many people would disagree with this idea that every Christian is to make disciples but hear me out.
When I asked the opening question, what popped in your head?
- Door knocking?
- Street preaching?
- Asking strangers would they go to heaven or hell if they died today
- Asking friends to have an evangelistic Bible study
Most of us will think “that’s not for me” and chances are, you are probably right!
We have mixed up evangelism and disciple making. They aren’t really the same thing. Evangelism isn’t something everyone is gifted at or drawn to. If you don’t have the evangelistic gift, then you have probably learned to check out of the disciple making process. But making disciples is something we can all thrive at doing.
Here is how.
Paul explains in Ephesians 4:11 that God gave gifts to the church, evangelism being one of them.
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,”
Evangelism is just one gift among many that make up the church.
What Paul is talking about in this section is how God has prepared us to grow, as disciples, into maturity when we all use our Christ-given gifts for the betterment of each other.
Here is what he writes next,
“to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” – Eph 4:12-13
Jesus gave the gifts…to equip his people for works of service to be built up in unity and attaining to the full measure of Christ.
These are disciples helping each other mature as disciples. He says a few verses later in 4:16 that for this to work out, “each part does its work” – we all have to use our gifts together.
What does this have to do with making disciples?
It turns out the same gifts, used together, to mature disciples are the same gifts that are needed to make disciples.
Because we equate making disciples with pure evangelism we have largely missed how the whole church can participate. We have exclusively focused on only one of the five gifts and then said everyone needs to do what only a few people are gifted to do and to largely ignore any connection between your real gift and making disciples.
Here is how all the gifts can be used to make disciples, not just mature them.
The apostle (sent one) and evangelists are on the front lines. They are engaging the unreached and seekers out there. They find them and bring them in.
What happens when new people arrive in the assembly? You have the prophets, shepherds and teachers receive them, welcome them, shepherd them, and teach them. They need a prophetic voice to remind them what God has said and tune them into what God is saying. They need shepherd/pastors to care for and nurture their soul. They need teachers to get them into the word, understanding the word to live the word.
You may not be an evangelist…you probably aren’t…but the evangelist needs you to do your part. The shepherd may not bring in the sheep but they can care for them. You get the idea!
If we look at evangelism as disciple making and disciple making as the effort of the combined family of God, I am certain we would be more effective in impacting the world. No longer do we need to say “that’s not my gift” and not be in the process of making and maturing disciples. That is the job of every single one of us as each one of us uses our gifts for this purpose.
The church would be stronger if we did this. Lives would change. God would be glorified!
I created a discovery guide for trying to discern your spiritual gift from the gifts in Ephesians 4:11. You can download it HERE.
If you are interested in discipleship, you might like to know the Robert Coleman’s landmark book “The Master Plan of Evangelism” is periodically free on kindle! You can get the link here.