The “old school” mindset (meaning only the last 50-60 years of church history) of the American church is to do evangelism and discipleship through a program. Want to reach people? Start a program. Want to demonstrate your commitment to Christ? Join a program. What to be a Christian leader? Join a committee. Want to spread the gospel? Give money to a program. Want your people to do personal evangelism? Start a program and beg them to show up (even if you know they’ll fizzle out after six weeks).
Now these methods aren’t necessarily bad and not all “programs” the church uses for evangelism and discipleship should be thrown out with the proverbial bath water. Some of those things I just mentioned are very helpful, but perhaps we’ve put the primary emphasis on the wrong things.
The home is where Christian living, evangelism, discipleship, and leadership ought to begin. Your relationships in the world are where those things should extend next. Want to reach people? Invest time and personal relationship in them. What to demonstrate your commitment to Christ? Gather with your local church faithfully for worship and Bible study, but also set an example in your home, community, work place, etc. Want to be a Christian leader? Be the spiritual leader for your wife and children (Wives, support your husbands and help lead your kids); teach God’s Word in your home, share the gospel with your family members. This is a big job- leave the committees for those who have moved passed this phase of life or only take on what doesn’t take away from your leadership at home. Want to spread the gospel? Go on mission trips as long as you are physically able. Send money if you are able but let those who cannot physically go do the bulk of the sending. Pastor, want your people to do personal evangelism? This is where I’m convicted to set the example for my people. Lead your people to share the gospel starting with their children but also to season their conversations with neighbors and co-workers with God’s Word and share the gospel with them through personal relationship.
Our churches (and as far as I’m concerned this begins with my leadership at my church) must see their purpose to bear the image of God to the world through obedience to His Word. It is not about fulfilling a social obligation and not about a program we attend. We are a living organism, a community of faith- the children of God, the Bride of Christ, and the temple of the Holy Spirit.