How often have we thought of discipleship and evangelism as two separate and unconnected aspects of our life in Christ? Even more harmful, we often consider discipleship necessary and evangelism optional. Or we think evangelism is only for the most zealous and “spiritually gifted” in our churches. But the New Testament paints a picture in which every disciple of Christ is normally and naturally involved in evangelism as much as in Bible study, prayer, and corporate worship. From the brand new Christian to the senior saint, sharing the gospel is necessary and integral to a growing life in Christ.
Many of us have heard and even preached sermons that rightly focused on the Great Commission’s theme of “make disciples” (Matt. 28:18-20). And we’ve taught those around us that they should be disciple-makers themselves. But we also need to be clear that “making disciples” absolutely and emphatically involves helping people who are not yet disciples to become disciples—that is, evangelism. Jesus modeled it (Mk. 1:14, 15; Matt. 9:35) and trained his apostles to do the same (Mk. 6:7-13; Lk. 10:1-12).
Part of the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42) that the newly Spirit-filled church devoted themselves to must have been the normal and regular sharing of the gospel with family, friends, and strangers. From those very first weeks and months after Pentecost, people were being saved every day (Acts 2:47). Evangelism was immediately a part of their new life of discipleship to the risen Lord Jesus. Evangelism to the early church member was natural and normal. It was to them and should be to us, a “24-7, 365” way of life.
As we make disciples, let’s be sure to model and teach them all that he commanded—including the great joy and blessing of a life of evangelism.