healthy churches balance evangelism and discipleship

Healthy Churches Focus on Growing Insiders and Reaching Outsiders

Every pastor wants to build a thriving and spiritually vibrant church community. But what is the blueprint for growing healthy churches? In this post, we will discuss the fundamental principles that foster a thriving church and ignite change, both inside and outside its walls.

The inspiration for this post comes from Acts 16:5, which reads, “So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.” This verse powerfully illustrates the inseparable connection between discipleship and evangelism. Healthy churches balance growing insiders and reaching outsiders.

So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.

Acts 16:5

In pursuing church growth, it’s crucial to strike a delicate balance between discipleship and evangelism. All too often, churches prioritize one at the expense of the other. However, Acts 16:5 serves as a reminder that discipleship and evangelism are not mutually exclusive.

You can have both! A church does not need to sacrifice one for the other. Focusing solely on insiders produces a “country club mentality” where outsiders feel unwelcome. On the other hand, a church focused solely on reaching outsiders has a huge backdoor where insiders are left desiring more. When churches take this either/or approach, they end up with either deep believers & no converts OR many converts & no disciples.

Unhealthy Churches Produce Deep Believers But Few Converts

When a church places an overwhelmingly heavy emphasis on discipleship and spiritual growth, it often unintentionally crafts a congregation filled with deeply committed believers but few new converts. While the dedication to nurturing spiritual depth is commendable, it can lead to isolation from the broader community and the looming risk of stagnation.

Within these church walls, congregants may become spiritually mature, well-versed in Scripture, and deeply committed to their faith. However, without a focus on evangelism and outreach, the church may miss opportunities to share the transformative message of Christ with those outside its walls. As a result, the congregation remains inward-focused, creating a tightly-knit but exclusive community where spiritual growth occurs, but the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations remains unfulfilled.

Unhealthy Churches Make Many Converts But Few Disciples

When a church places all its efforts into reaching new converts and expanding its numerical membership, it can unintentionally neglect the crucial aspect of discipleship. Without a strong commitment to nurturing these new believers into mature disciples, they may remain shallow in their faith, lacking a solid foundation in biblical knowledge and spiritual disciplines. The result is a congregation with high turnover, where individuals come and go, seeking spiritual nourishment but finding it elusive. The church becomes a revolving door of attendees, lacking the depth and stability that comes with a committed and mature membership.

In essence, the either/or approach creates a tension between depth and breadth within the church. To be truly effective in fulfilling its mission, healthy churches must find a way to strike a balance between these two aspects. It should aim to foster deep believers who are also passionate about reaching and discipling new converts. This balance creates a vibrant and growing community where spiritual maturity coexists with a commitment to sharing the love of Christ with the world. Such a church not only strengthens the faith of its members but also fulfills its purpose of making disciples, embodying the unity of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.

Healthy Churches Balance Both A Deeper Walk And A Wider Reach

Pastors must lead their congregation into a deeper walk with Jesus. This involves nurturing and deepening the faith of those within the church family. It means equipping believers with biblical knowledge, cultivating spiritual disciplines, and guiding them toward a mature and vibrant faith.

At the same time, the calling of churches extends far beyond their walls—to reach out to those far from God.  It’s about actively engaging the community, meeting people where they are, and drawing them into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. Healthy churches are filled with people who carry the Gospel message and share God’s transformative love and grace with those who are outside of the church.

Imagine a church that passionately fosters the spiritual growth of its members while simultaneously extending its influence to the world. Such a church creates an environment where individuals can deepen their walk with God while actively participating in the mission of making disciples.

Healthy Churches Blend Both Inward Discipline And Outward Influence

By blending inward discipline and outward influence, churches can create a powerful synergy. This synergy is where the true power of the church lies. When a congregation is spiritually grounded and committed to living out its faith, it becomes better equipped to serve and influence the world around it.

The inward discipline strengthens and equips believers for the outward mission, enabling them to make a tangible impact on the world around them. Likewise, the outward influence provides practical application and relevance to the discipleship process, empowering believers to live out their faith in meaningful ways.

A church that excels in balancing inward discipline and outward influence is a church that exemplifies unity and purpose. Its members are firmly grounded in their faith and guided by the principles of the Bible. They are passionate about growing in Christ-likeness, pursuing holiness, and encouraging one another in their spiritual journeys. Simultaneously, they are characterized by their love for their neighbors, their generosity towards the needy, and their unwavering commitment to sharing the good news of Jesus.

In conclusion, Acts 16:5 serves as a timeless reminder of the balance that healthy churches should strive for—nurturing discipleship within the congregation and actively engaging in evangelism to reach the lost. By embracing both aspects of the faith journey, your church can experience growth that is not only numerical but also deeply spiritual. Let us endeavor to follow this biblical model as we seek to strengthen our faith and grow daily in numbers, just as the early churches did.


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