Evangelism or Discipleship?: The False Dilemma That Every Youth Leader Faces

Every youth leader has a false dilemma. This “dilemma” is whether or not to focus on evangelism or discipleship with their youth ministry.

The typical youth leader’s thought process may go something like this, “If I focus on evangelism the kingdom will grow and so will my youth group. But if I focus on discipleship my teens will grow spiritually. I guess I’ll focus on discipleship first and then my teens will be ready to evangelize.”

But how has that approach worked with the adults in our churches? As a result of this “disciple first/evangelize later” approach we have a bunch of Christians filling our pews that may know basic doctrine but have lost their passion, urgency and vision to reach the lost. As a matter of fact the average Christian adult has never shared the Gospel with one of their peers.

But the youth leader’s dilemma is really no dilemma at all if we take a look at the ministry of Jesus to his young disciples. Jesus had a “disciple now/evangelize now” approach that took his disciples deep into the Word while taking them wide (on mission) into the world.

Jesus taught them truth while they were spreading the good news of his kingdom to those around them. His ministry was a 3 1/2 year mission trip separated by multiple micro-teachings along the way. He taught them as he sent them. He sent them as he taught them.

There’s a very interesting passage in Luke 10:17-20, “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.‘ He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’

This was one of many fishing-for-people expeditions that Jesus put together (Matthew 4:19) for his disciples. On this particular one there are 72 disciples fishing for people through evangelism. They came back from the outreach on-fire and excited.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Greg Stier

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