Two head battles

Today was a busy day with back-to-back classes. It's funny how even on the busiest days I still find time to argue with myself. Here's two topics that have surfaced today - I'm really interested in your feedback.

Discipleship vs. Evangelism
Some Christian ministries are highly effective at discipleship - investing in those who already believe and drawing them closer to a relationship with Jesus. Other Christian ministries are highly effective at evangelism - seeking those people who don't know Jesus, and introducing them to the God who saves me every day from being the idiot that I am. I rarely see a ministry that is extremely effective at both tasks. I'm not saying 'mutlitask' ministries don't exist - I've seen them before - I'm just suggesting that ministries often gravitate towards one side or the other.
  • What's good about this?
  • What's wrong with this?
  • What's the goal?

Being vs. Doing
There's a handful of people in my life who I could put in my "hall of fame" - those who I am forever thankful for the investments and wisdom they have placed into my life. One of them recently told me to:
"take time to 'be' in the midst of all the 'doing'. Who you are is not defined by what you do. What you do is defined by who you are."
So I've been wrestling with this question of being vs. doing. This is a struggle for me.
  • What tangible steps can we take to make sure we are "being", and not just "doing"?
  • Which came first, the being or the doing?


Abbie said...

I'm pretty sure the chicken came before the egg.

Anonymous said...

I roll up my sleeves to answer these questions. They are not by any means the correct answer-I do not have those answers, only suggestions.

First, what is good about this. Well it allows you to focus on a certain aspect. You are giving your all into one specific thing, allowing you to go very deep. Deep in one subject instead of surface deep into two or three. However I think its bad, because you limit yourself in thinking that is all you can do there. Take worhsip for example, I know I get so caught up in praising God and worshiping that I don't even think of using it to evanglize. When was the last time I invited someone to worship to hear the (amazing) speakers, or see how much we love Jesus. Or to invite a christian that doesn't come there to share in. The goal though is a little tricker I think its different for everyone.

In regards to being vs. doing. I find this is something I struggle with a lot. Sometimes I feel like I just go through the motions, that gets monotonous and leaves me feeling bland and unmotivated. But when something is dictated by the passion I have for it, I find my "doings" are a lot more lively and truer to my self. I guess the only thing, the only tangiable thing we can do, is when we go to do something ask ourselves why are we doing this-that way the way you are/way you feel about what you are doing will shine through.

I think the being came before the doing though. I mean when you were a baby you were doing a lot of being...not so much doing :-)

jdb said...

Thank you for your great wisdom, anonymous. I agree about the depths of focusing on one, yet our call to do both.

Tell me ... are you messing with my by using "bland" and "unmotivated" in the same sentence? :-)

Thanks for your well-thought-out response.

Anonymous said...

No, but I kind of wish I was...that would have been brillant! :-)

Ryan Jones said...

I read this the other day, and I've been letting it sit at the back of my mind for a while and for some reason it just now clicked for me, at least the discipleship vs. evangelism part. I would tend to think that it fits perfectly in line with the whole 3story thing. If we go about evangelizing through our relationships, then, since those relationships are already there we end up discipling after the evangelism side of things happens. Now this is all, obviously, a person-to-person aspect to it all. As far as any organization is concerned I'm not sure that you really can perform both sides well. It's a double edged sword in terms of evangelsim and discipleship. Ultimately, I would have to believe that it comes down to the personal aspect of things and the relationships that are built. Just look at Jesus. He goes out and calls disciples, then disciples them. They, in turn, go out and evangelize, then raise up more disciples. And that's my two cents worth... just a thought.
ryan jones

justice is next to godliness said...

What's good about this?
It gives me a job. If the church were focused on both evangelism and discipleship effectively, then my job would not matter anymore. I also do think this is good in terms of a focused approach to ministry. On the other hand, how many hours a week does a youth pastor at a "discipleship" church actually spend with people doing discipleship? Just a thought.
What's bad about this?
When the "organization" loses focus on Jesus' call to them, to go into all the world, preach the gospel, and make disciples, they lose their purpose for existence. How long can an "organization" spend on discipleship before the entire thing becomes routine and rehearsed instead of vitally growing?
What is the goal?
To help people meet Jesus, then to help them meet Jesus, then to help them meet Jesus...a daily process of discipleship evangelism, that understands that you will never get it so you better start living it.

What steps towards being?
this is a circular argument. you cannot "be" without "doing" what you are. You cannot "do" without "being" what you are. If you are a new creation in Christ, then your actions will demonstrate that, sure. But your actions will demonstrate just as much your new identity in Christ. You are what you eat.

Anonymous said...


I think it's one of the sad realities of Western Christianity that we have allowed ourselves to think of discipleship and evangelism as two separate entities. I'm becoming more and more convicted (in thought...the practice side needs more work) that being able to share our faith with others must be recognized as part of the discipleship process for Christians.

To grow in faith we must grow in our understanding of our story...our falleness, our need for a savior, the presence of God's goodness in our lives, and the reality of Christ as that neeed Savior. As we grow in our knowledge of God, the reality of our story should become clearer, as should our ability to communicate that story with others.

Just look at Jesus own disciples. He helped them to grow, and as they grew continued to offer them opportunities to venture out as faither sharers. As they grew in their walk, so did the "scope" of their evangelistic mission.

When we think of evangelism as merely knocking on doors or handing out tracks, we can see that it doesn't really take a mature faith (a bold faith, maybe, but not a mature one). When we understand evangelism as sharing the story of who we are, we should also begin to recognize it as an integral part of our maturation in the faith...like a child who grows from being read stories by parents to a child who delights in reading stories to parents.

Along the same lines, as we grow in faith who we are changes. We become a new creation (daily, hopefully). If we focus on "being" new creatures everyday, than the things we do will inherently change as well. I'm thus inclined to think that God invites us to "be" first, with the "doing" coming as a response. We run into trouble when others tell us what to do, "because that what Christian living should look like," without helping us become the person who knows God is leading such actions.


John Bussone said...

Maybe discipleship vs evangleism is starting off on the wrong track. I say that based upon your distinction between the two.

I agree that a tension exists between the two in the modern church, but do they within the gospel?

Let me explain what I mean. What did Jesus what more than anything? I just heard a sermon geared toward the lost recently and the preacher said, "Jesus came to save the lost." So is that the answer, if so then we're short changing those who are already saved.

I like to look just a bit deeper and when I do I see Jesus wanting people, every single person, to know his Father. To know Him better, deeper, and with more intimacy than ever before.

Wanting people to know the father is the heart of the gospel.

You can teach that to your discipleship class on Tuesay and then teach it to your evangelism class on Thursday, and talk to your lost neighbor on Saturday. And your goal is for each and every person to know God by faith more than they did two minutes ago.


Right now