Written By: Josue Salcedo
“Evangelize from discipleship instead of discipleship from evangelism.” —Terry Parkman
The fastest-growing church in the world right now is the church of Iran, the second-fastest-growing church in the world is the church of Afghanistan, and the third-fastest-growing church in the world is the church of China. The irony in all this is that evangelism is illegal in these countries, and in most cases, you risk your own life by doing so.
Now knowing this, there are questions we as the Body of Christ should be asking ourselves. The first question is: “How do they evangelize?” The answer is quite simple, but it may challenge the way you and I have been taught to evangelize or how we are currently evangelizing. They disciple before they evangelize. Let’s dive deeper into this, but let’s first take a look at this scripture in the Gospel of Matthew.
“And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’”
(Matthew 4:19 ESV)
What Does This Look Like?
Since in most cases in these countries people risk incarceration, brutal punishment, or their own lives to evangelize, they don’t evangelize the way we normally do as the Western Church. This means they don’t pass out flyers about Jesus or try to get someone to say the prayer of salvation the first time they meet. Rather, they introduce themselves to someone, to a family, and they invite them to their home for a cup of coffee or dinner. They become friends with them and celebrate them and their family’s birthdays. They serve them. After a period of time they tell them, “Hey, by the way, did you know we are Christians?” They tell them about Jesus, and then ask them if they would like to receive Him as their Savior. And do you know what the number one answer the church members receive when they ask this question? Are you ready for the answer?
Let’s think about this for a moment, these people have been served, celebrated, honored, and loved unconditionally long before anything about Jesus is mentioned. They have created a bond and are now friends with a disciple of Jesus.
The number one answer the church receives when they ask if someone would like to receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior is: “We thought we had already received Him, because you have modeled Him to us.”
Jesus didn’t tell others in Matthew 4:19, “Believe in Me. Receive Me. I am the Lord.” or “Say this prayer.” He said: “Follow Me. Do life with Me.” Jesus did life with others. He discipled others long before they came into the realization of who He was. Simon, who was later called Peter, did life with Jesus, was discipled by Jesus, followed Jesus long before he said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16 ESV). It is without question that evangelizing from discipleship has a greater impact than discipling others from evangelism. I am not suggesting that this is the only or true model of evangelism, but rather highlighting the powerful impact that evangelism from discipleship can have on someone, a family, a city, or even a nation. Look at the impact it is having in countries where Christianity is illegal.
If in doubt, truly dive deep into the Word of God and read the four Gospels for yourself. You’ll see how Jesus discipled others long before they ever received Him as Lord. There is power in relationship.
(To be continued)