This is an excerpt from a book manuscript I am currently working on. The book is about how we have redefined church in the last few decades, in some ways to its detriment. This passage deals with the topic of evangelism and discipleship coexisting in a ministry. It can be done, should be done, but there must be balance. There are numerous opinions on this topic. This is mine.
There must be a balance between evangelism and discipleship. Sometimes, maybe oftentimes, these two can be experienced simultaneously. For example, it is certainly possible for a witnessing opportunity to act as a discipleship lesson, as the discipler models for the disciple how to share their faith effectively. There are certainly other examples.But sometimes these two are mutually exclusive by nature.
In a church, evangelism and discipleship should each be consistently done, yet not so exclusively as to the detriment of the other. There should be balance.
There must be balance in our content. I believe that every sermon should carry the gospel in some form – because the gospel permeates everything we believe. But I don’t believe that every sermon or Bible study can have as its lone subject the gospel. This is what Paul meant when he wrote that we should move on from the basic teachings about salvation and on to deeper things . This is discipleship. If every sermon is focused only on the basic facts of salvation, it would be to the detriment of the believer’s discipleship. On the other hand, if every message from the church is about deeper Christian life and truth, it would be to the detriment of the lost who are present. There should be a balance in content.
There must be balance in our chronology. Balance must be present on a weekly basis as well as a seasonal or yearly basis. This is why homiletics is so important in the life of a pastor or pastoral team. A pastor must understand first how to prepare each individual sermon with this balance in place – so that the Christians are fed and the lost are convicted. Sometimes the message will speak to one group more heavily than the other, but both should receive something from that week. Likewise, planning out the sermons for the season or even the year is also a crucial task. True, it helps the pastor and other ministries (media, drama, small groups) prepare in advance for the coming week’s topics. But there is a more important reason to plan out sermons or series well in advance. Doing so will ensure that the church strikes a healthy balance between evangelism and discipleship on a monthly, seasonal, or yearly basis. And by doing this, the church leadership can be sure that they are maintaining the church’s focus on the lost while also building that focus on the foundation of growing Christians. Failure to build this balanced foundation ministry-wide results in a church that is all but ready to crumble.
Is your ministry a balanced one? How do you maintain balance?