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Saturday, March 15, 2014

"Evangelism or Discipleship" (Bobby Harrington and Bill Hull)

TITLE: Evangelism or Discipleship: Can They Effectively Work Together?
AUTHOR: Bobby Harrington and Bill Hull
PUBLISHER: Exponential Resources, 2014.

[Free ebook available here.]

Every Church ought to do evangelism. Every Church also needs to be doing discipleship. The question is: Are they two activities? According to pastors and authors Bobby Harrington and Bill Hull, they are one and the same thing. Evangelism is not simply about "being in the world" and divorced from Church work and activities. Neither is discipleship about inner programs. Both complement each other in the fulfilling of God's mission. In fact, people have tended to see the areas of evangelism and discipleship as two separate things done by two separate people of different callings. Harrington and Hull puts "evangelism" as front-end of discipleship while helping believers mature is the "back-end." One cannot do discipleship independent of evangelism, and vice versa.

For the authors, discipleship is defined: "as trusting God’s presence as we intentionally enter into the lives of others to guide them to trust and follow Jesus and obey all his teachings."It is not a program but a movement toward maturity. It is about connecting with believers to encourage reproduction of disciples toward Christlikeness. It is learning to be accountable to one another.

Simply put, the key message of this book is that: "Disciples have a mission, and the mission is to reach people. Evangelism necessitates disciples who have matured to the point of reproduction. Discipleship includes evangelism, and evangelism is a part of discipleship."

After describing the relationship between discipleship and evangelism, the authors describes a disciple-making church that is characterized by:
  1. Building relationships with people
  2. Teaching the Word
  3. Reproduction of disciples
All believers are to be equipped through discipleship. All disciples live out their calling through evangelism. If church is for discipleship, then discipleship is for the world. Sometimes I feel that Christians through the ages have become too fixated on seeing evangelism and discipleship as two different things. Evangelism is to reach non-Christians while Discipleship is to reach Christians; or Evangelism is to do with external activities while Discipleship is all about internal stuff. Many Churches even have separate ministries and staff to do the different thrusts. I know of some that even hired "Outreach Pastors" or "Discipleship Pastors." This book aims to do away with all the unhelpful dichotomy. On a practical scale, if we separate the two, we tend to leave all the evangelism and outreach stuff to the evangelism ministry, and discipleship to the discipleship ministry. By doing that, are we not betraying our own calling to "make disciples of all nations" not just our inner groups? All for discipleship and discipleship for all. Disciples for evangelism and evangelism for all disciples. This picture is fuller and more complete.


This book is provided to me free by Exponential.org without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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