Discipling Unbelievers

You Cannot Disciple an Unbeliever: Discipleship + Evangelism

Should I Disciple an Unbeliever?  A previous Replicate TV episode on this topic (Should I Ever Disciple an Unbeliever) generated substantial feedback. Some questioned my assertion that we should only disciple believers. I encourage you to watch the episode rather than to read only the summary, which is merely a “cliff note” version of the recorded clip. Evangelism and discipleship are two oars attached to one boat. With only one oar in the water, you will go in a circle. Both oars are necessary to reach your destination. Both are essential to carrying out the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20). The gospel is received through evangelism and lived out through discipleship. Evangelism without discipleship ends when the evangelist dies. Likewise, discipleship without evangelism ceases when the disciple-maker dies. Derwin Gray, pastor of Transformational Church, states, “If our churches are not evangelistic, then our discipleship process has not been holistic.” True disciples make disciples, and disciples cannot be made without evangelism. It is a “both/and” rather than an “either/or” proposition. Evangelism and discipleship are exclusive and at the same time intimately related aspects of the Christian life. You can initiate what Robert Coleman, author of the Master Plan of Evangelism, calls pre-discipleship, but it is not discipleship in the purist sense of the word. It is impossible to pinpoint accurately when each of the Apostles believed in Jesus as the Messiah. One major difference between them and us: the Apostles followed Jesus to the cross, while we follow Jesus from the cross. Another is the filling of the Holy Spirit in John 20 and Acts 2 (Jesus actually gave the Holy Spirit to the Apostles prior to Acts 2  [cf. Jn. 20:22]). Read More
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