Questions We Never Ask But Should

Thursday is for Discipleship

  • Discipleship 2What is included in making disciples?
  • Are disciple-making and discipleship the same thing?
  • Is spiritual-formation a synonym for making-disciples?
  • What do we gain when we separate evangelism from discipleship? What do we lose?

Why did Jesus never separate evangelism (proclamation) from following (spiritual formation)?

If Jesus didn’t separate them, any ideas on why we do?
Is it arrogance or wisdom to do what Jesus didn’t do? 

3 thoughts on “Questions We Never Ask But Should

  1. Let me prime the pump or stir the pot a bit to get this started.

    For about 150 years, the concept of making-disciples has had a changing emphasis. The terminology has gone from MAKE-DISCIPLES to MAKING DISCIPLES to SOUL WINNING to DISCIPLESHIP to CHRISTIAN EDUCATION back to DISCIPLESHIP to being split into EVANGELISM AND DISCIPLESHIP to SPIRITUAL FORMATION.

    A friend of mine, Dr. Peter Nelson, has just written an excellent book by the latter title (Spiritual Formation: Ever Forming, Never Formed, [Biblica Publishing, Colorado Spring, CO, 2010]. I love the book, even wrote a backcover endorsement. Nevertheless, I want to sound a warning call that the changing terminology for the task of “making disciples” is in danger of obscuring important biblical values and behaviors that run the risk of overturning the whole enterprise.

    What do we gain/lose by separating evangelism from the work of sanctification?


  2. IF sanctification can be defined as: 1) a decision to separate ourselves from the actions and thoughts of a sinful lifestyle and 2) dedication of ourselves, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to thought processes and actions that reflect honor toward God through Jesus Christ our Lord, THEN evangelism and sanctification are inseparable.

    To separate them quite possibly means to try to do the work of Christ in ones own power. Evangelism without sanctification more likely leads to ‘non-evangelism’, the act of going through the motions of living a Christian life without any power and without any light that others would look at and say, ‘these guys are different. I think I want what these guys have!’


  3. Would like to take a shot at the 1st six questions as well.

    1) Discipleship includes, but is not limited to, eating together (Matt 15:29-39), spending time together (Matt 16:21- 17:13), praying (Matt 19:13-15), training / instruction (Matt 5, 6, 7), participating in healing of the sick, casting out demons (Matt 9:18-35 and Matt 17:14-21)

    2) Yes

    3) In Matt 28:18-20 Jesus gave His disciples ‘The Great Commission.’ He told his disciples to teach others to ‘observe all things I have commanded you.’ So His last command on earth was to go out and teach and train others to go out and teach and train others. Spiritual formation has to be a pretty close synonym for ‘making-disciples.’

    4) When we separate evangelism from discipleship we are able to save face…hide from the world the fact that we are Biblically illiterate. We are able to live a more peacefully less complicated life. What we lose by separating evangelism from discipleship is some serious growth. As we are growing we say some pretty stupid stuff, we deal with pretty rude responses… we get confronted with the realization that in some areas we deal with life the same way our non-Christian counterparts do…we find this out because they point it out to us. We are forced to deal with our more public hypocrisies much quicker than if we just stayed to ourselves with our ‘private Christian lifestyle.’ We miss out on galvanizing life events, like watching lives change before our very eyes.

    5 ) These were not things to be separated. These are like passing a glass of water down a row of people. It does not make sense to pass the empty glass and then the water (not water in a pitcher…just water). You pass the glass filled with water down the row. It is the only common sense way of doing it.

    6) The answer to this one is not flattering…we do not love God enough to study His word seriously enough and believe it. And we do not love people enough to deal with the garbage we run into while living out ‘The Great Commission.’ We have enough joy in our lives winning at our computer games and living life thru our favorite TV shows. That is enough for us much of the time. And it is much easier to talk about than subjects that deal with eternal damnation or eternal joy.


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