I have found it very interesting over the years that many in this generation are concerned with the evangelization of the world (and rightly so) but sometimes at the cost of a focus on discipleship of the next generation.
Why? It has to do with the theology behind the return of Christ. If Christ can return today than we must treat it as our last and evangelize all we can. However, on the other side of the coin I often ask, “what if Jesus does not return today?” If I knew Jesus was going to return, would I disciple? Would I baptize? Would I take time with a brother or sister who needed some comfort or encouragement?
See, we must do all these and be found faithful at His coming. Doing one thing extremely well while ignoring the other is not what Christ commanded. What does this reveal about what we believe about God? Could this be why God never revealed when His Son would return? He did want to inform us of His second coming but not when it would come to pass.
Some entertain the idea that evangelism is the most important because it introduces the Gospel to those who need to hear it which may lead to the conversion of some. Conversion after all is most important right? Meanwhile, discipleship seems secondary, if not less important than evangelism. Granted, discipleship cannot take place without individuals who are not genuinely converted.
So, the foundation is obviously the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with clarity and continuing to fulfill the great commission. It is a both/and not an either/or.
“All authority has been given to me. Go therefore make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
What is so comforting about these verses is that Christ states something we often miss: That vs. 18 and vs.20 gives some practical insight to what He was commanding his disciples to do. First, all authority had been given to Him! Secondly, at the end of these verses He reminds them of the promise that He would be with them! This gives confidence that He is in authority and comfort that He is with us in this process of obeying the great commission.
Authority is Christ’s, not ours, and it is not up to us, for He is with us and works through us! So let us be caught up in Christ so we have Someone to proclaim rather than being caught up in the process and forget our purpose!