Discipleship Begins and Ends with Evangelism
Most, if not all, of us are aware that the great commission says to “Go and make disciples of all nations,” in Matthew 28:19. However, during my undergraduate degree in student ministry, the goal of making disciples was laid out as if it was a revolutionary idea which had been missed for centuries. I left college ready to hit the church world and make an impact through disciple-making, which is exactly what I should have done. However, two years into my first student ministry position, I realized not much had taken place. In my mind I was making disciples, but, in truth, I had used Matthew 28:19 as a license not to care about the things which could be measured. I wish someone had pointed out to me earlier or reminded me of the truth: discipleship begins and ends with evangelism. Simply stated, a student ministry of disciple-makers is a student ministry with a heart for the lost.
Discipleship begins with evangelism. How can it not? Without evangelism, discipleship has a very short life, namely the lifespan of Christians currently alive. The immediate hearers of the Great Commission had to understand that fact. If they were to “make disciples of all nations,” they were going to have to reach unbelievers with the Gospel.
Discipleship ends with evangelism. We know that discipleship never ends, but a true disciple is not mature unless he or she can make another disciple. As student pastors with hearts for making disciples of Jesus, our job cannot possibly be complete without equipping teens to share their faith, giving them opportunities actually to share their faith, and empowering them to teach those they lead to Jesus.
My passion for being a youth pastor who makes disciple-making-disciples has never diminished. It is more impassioned than ever before. The difference between my first two years in ministry and the few years since is that I now have a more complete picture of the marriage between discipleship and evangelism. Student ministry does not leave us with a choice of whether we will be a disciple-making ministry or an evangelistic ministry. Discipleship begins and ends with evangelism. Now, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
Some questions I had to ask about my ministry after two years and which may be beneficial to ask about your student ministry are:
- Does our discipleship program lead to students making disciples?
- Do we have mentoring relationships where older students can disciple younger students?
- Do we have an evangelism training program that teaches our students how to share their faith and gives them opportunities to share their faith?
- When we pray, do we have focused prayer for the lost?
- What practices do we have that encourage students to share their faith?
Resources for Evangelistic Presentation and Training
- Life in 6 Words (Dare 2 Share Ministries) (available in an app)
- 3 Circles Life Conversation Guide (NAMB) (available in an app)
- The Story (Spread Truth) (available in an app)
- Share Jesus Without Fear (Lifeway) (by Bill Faye) (available in an app)
- Can we Talk? (First Baptist Euless, TX)
- F.A.I.T.H. Evangelism (Lifeway)
- The Romans Road
- How to share your personal faith story