Evangelism and Discipleship Within the Local Church
There has never been a greater opportunity to reach a community for Christ than now. However, reaching a community is more than just being seen, it’s also teaching the community about who Jesus is and what He has done for them.
The Gospel Is Not Caught, But Rather Taught
Pastoring is one of the most important aspects of ministry, and it is a mandate from God. To fulfill this specific calling, the pastor must be filled, anointed, led, and instructed by the Holy Spirit. The gospel cannot be caught, but rather taught, simply because it is the driving force behind doctrine and actualization within the community. There are people who are hurting and need direction in their lives, and the one who can truly provide that direction is the God-called pastor.
Relationship building is key in any endeavor in the community, and the pastor must be involved in the social lives of the community. However, the pastor must find that balance between building relationships and demonstrating Christianity without watering down the message of the cross. The gospel is not caring for those who are less fortunate or social interaction, yet that is what is expected by Christians.
Evangelism And Making Disciples
The people a pastor serves have lives outside of church, which means the local church and pastor must have some knowledge or insight into the kind of community they serve. One must become familiar with his surroundings to see the opportunities available. No church that refuses to look beyond its borders will ever grow, which means that opportunities are endless right outside the door.
The church is called to go out into the highways and byways, and the world around it and make disciples, teaching them to observe all things that Christ has commanded (Matt. 28:19-20). In verse 19, the word teach means “to disciple,” which must ever be the focus of the local church. We have been given full authority by Christ to carry on the work of our Commander in Chief, and time is of the essence. We must leave the comfort of our four walls and reach the community around us.
The church is a called-out body, separated from the world. However, the misconception is that we are to be removed from all worldly things and the people within. Yes, we are called to be separate, but we are not called to be isolated. There is a difference. We are not of this world and our home is not this world, but while we are here, we are commanded to be fishers of men. The greatest thing we could give our neighbors is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and, seeing that this is the greatest news ever given, why are we so hesitant to share it?
Any pastor desires growth. Nevertheless, to achieve growth, there has to be an effective plan to reach the community. The church must cast its net on the outside of the boat and compel them to enter into the house of God (Luke 14:23). This is not accomplished by the pastor alone; it takes the entire congregation, and sound doctrine teaches the local body how to properly fish for the lost.
Not only is the local pastor to be a fisher of men, but also a nurturer of the body. In other words, fulfilling the Great Commission involves evangelism and discipleship. Be visible within the community to win souls for Christ and nurturing to the flock for growth. The church should always be viewed as a spiritual hospital for the spiritually afflicted. It should be a place where the hurting can find comfort, the lost can find salvation, and the sick can experience healing. The church needs to view itself in that vein. When it does, the vision and perspective of the local body changes. To be honest, the church cannot disciple anyone until people are won to Christ; the church is not properly fulfilling the Great Commission just by witnessing. There needs to be a balance of evangelism and discipleship for the overall growth of the body of Christ.
Love God, Love People
On a personal note, the phrase “love God, love people” is not just a catchphrase or a cool pastoral slogan; it is my heart. My calling is to be a pastor, and for me to walk in my calling, I must apply this command. If the love of God does not extend to love of my fellowman, then my claim to love God and people is a false statement. I firmly believe that when a person has a heart for God, he or she will also have a heart for people. People are people, meaning that every person is different and comes with his or her own personal baggage. Yet, that does not mean we are to look past the less fortunate and only look for those who are more like us. As stated, opportunities are endless if we choose to put this lifestyle of loving God and loving people into practice.
There is a question that I must ask you: is there a fire burning bright for souls within the local body, or has that flame of passion for church growth gone out? If you do not see a passion for souls or the desire to disciple the flock, then I suggest you find some place that does. At the same time, I want to present a question, or maybe even a challenge to you—are you doing your part in fulfilling the Great Commission? If not, what are you going to do about it?
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