Project – Evangelism and discipleship: the indubitable pivots for a sustainable church spiritual and numerical growth
Background to the Study
Evangelism and discipleship are two fundamental aspects of Christian faith that have been identified as the key drivers for sustainable church growth, both spiritually and numerically. Evangelism, as defined by the Bible, is the act of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ to non-believers (Matthew 28:19-20). Discipleship, on the other hand, is the process of nurturing and mentoring believers to grow in their faith and become more like Christ (Matthew 28:19-20). These two elements are intertwined and are crucial for the growth and sustainability of the church (Coleman, 1963).
The role of evangelism in church growth cannot be overstated. According to Wagner (1976), evangelism is the primary means through which the church gains new members. It involves reaching out to non-believers, sharing the gospel with them, and inviting them to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. This process not only increases the numerical strength of the church but also expands the kingdom of God on earth. However, evangelism alone is not sufficient for sustainable church growth. It must be complemented by discipleship.
Discipleship is the process of nurturing new believers and helping them grow in their faith. It involves teaching them the doctrines of Christianity, guiding them in their spiritual journey, and equipping them to become effective witnesses of Christ (Hull, 2006). Discipleship is crucial for the spiritual growth of the church. Without it, new converts may not grow in their faith, and the church may not be able to sustain its growth.
The relationship between evangelism and discipleship is symbiotic. Evangelism brings people into the church, while discipleship helps them grow in their faith and become active members of the church. This relationship is crucial for the sustainability of church growth. According to McIntosh (2004), churches that prioritize both evangelism and discipleship are more likely to experience sustainable growth than those that focus on one at the expense of the other.
However, despite the importance of evangelism and discipleship, many churches struggle to effectively implement these practices. Some of the challenges include lack of resources, lack of trained personnel, and cultural barriers (Stetzer & Rainer, 2010). To overcome these challenges, churches need to invest in training and equipping their members for evangelism and discipleship. They also need to develop strategies that are culturally relevant and effective in their context.
Evangelism and discipleship are indubitable pivots for sustainable church growth. They are not only crucial for the numerical growth of the church but also for its spiritual growth. Churches that want to experience sustainable growth must therefore prioritize both evangelism and discipleship. They must also be willing to invest in training and equipping their members for these tasks.
Statement of the Problem
The problem of dwindling church membership and spiritual stagnation is a pressing issue in many Christian communities today. Despite the efforts of church leaders and members, there seems to be a disconnect in the process of attracting and retaining new members. The role of evangelism and discipleship in this process cannot be overstated.
Evangelism, the act of spreading the Christian faith, is often the first point of contact for potential new members. However, the effectiveness of evangelism efforts is often undermined by a lack of follow-through and discipleship. Discipleship, the process of nurturing and guiding new believers in their faith journey, is crucial in ensuring the sustainability of church growth.
The problem arises when these two elements are not effectively integrated. Many churches focus on evangelism without adequately preparing for the discipleship process, leading to a high turnover of new converts. Conversely, some churches invest heavily in discipleship programs without first ensuring a steady influx of new believers through evangelism.
Furthermore, the lack of a clear understanding of the relationship between evangelism and discipleship often leads to a disjointed approach. This disjointed approach can result in a lack of continuity in the spiritual growth of new believers, leading to disillusionment and eventual disengagement.
The challenge, therefore, lies in finding a balance between evangelism and discipleship. Both are necessary for sustainable church growth, but they must be effectively integrated to ensure that new believers are not only attracted to the church but also nurtured and retained.
In conclusion, the problem of sustainable church growth cannot be addressed without a thorough understanding of the roles of evangelism and discipleship. The current literature suggests that these two elements are often treated separately, leading to ineffective growth strategies. Further research is needed to explore how these two elements can be effectively integrated to promote both spiritual and numerical growth in the church.
1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study
The aim of the of the study is to examine Evangelism and discipleship: the indubitable pivots for a sustainable church spiritual and numerical growth. The specific objectives of the study are:
- To examine the role of evangelism and discipleship in promoting sustainable church growth both spiritually and numerically.
- To investigate the current practices of evangelism and discipleship in various churches and their impact on church growth.
- To identify the challenges faced by churches in implementing effective evangelism and discipleship programs.
- To explore the relationship between the level of commitment to evangelism and discipleship and the rate of church growth.
The research questions are buttressed below:
- What role does evangelism and discipleship play in promoting sustainable church growth both spiritually and numerically?
- What are the current practices of evangelism and discipleship in various churches and how do they impact church growth?
- What challenges do churches face in implementing effective evangelism and discipleship programs?
- Is there a relationship between the level of commitment to evangelism and discipleship and the rate of church growth? If so, what is the nature of this relationship?
1.5. Research Hypothesis
The hypothetical statement of the study is stated below:
Ho: Evangelism and discipleship cannot promote sustainable church growth
Ho: Evangelism and discipleship can promote sustainable church growth
1.6. Significance of the Study
The significance of the study on evangelism and discipleship as the indubitable pivots for a sustainable church spiritual and numerical growth cannot be overstated. Evangelism, the act of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, is a fundamental aspect of Christianity. It is the primary means through which the church grows numerically. Without evangelism, the church would not be able to reach out to non-believers and bring them into the fold. Therefore, evangelism is a critical factor in the sustainability of the church’s numerical growth.
Discipleship, on the other hand, is the process of nurturing and developing believers in their faith. It is through discipleship that believers grow spiritually, becoming more like Christ in their thoughts, words, and actions. Discipleship ensures that the growth of the church is not just numerical but also spiritual. It is the process that ensures that the believers are not just increasing in number but also growing in their faith and commitment to Christ.
The relationship between evangelism and discipleship is symbiotic. Evangelism brings people into the church, while discipleship nurtures them and helps them grow in their faith. Without evangelism, there would be no new believers to disciple. Without discipleship, the new believers brought in through evangelism would not grow in their faith. Therefore, both evangelism and discipleship are necessary for the sustainable growth of the church, both numerically and spiritually.
The study of evangelism and discipleship as the indubitable pivots for a sustainable church spiritual and numerical growth is significant because it provides insights into how the church can effectively grow and sustain its growth. It provides strategies and approaches that the church can adopt in its evangelism and discipleship efforts to ensure that it is not just growing in numbers but also in faith.
Furthermore, the study is significant because it challenges the church to rethink its approach to evangelism and discipleship. It encourages the church to view evangelism and discipleship not as separate activities but as interconnected processes that are critical to its growth and sustainability. It pushes the church to invest more in evangelism and discipleship, recognizing that these are the key to its survival and growth.
The study on evangelism and discipleship as the indubitable pivots for a sustainable church spiritual and numerical growth is of great significance. It provides valuable insights that can help the church grow and sustain its growth. It challenges the church to rethink its approach to evangelism and discipleship and to invest more in these critical processes. It is a study that has the potential to transform the church and ensure its sustainability in the long run.
1.7. Scope of the Study
The study examines Evangelism and discipleship: the indubitable pivots for a sustainable church spiritual and numerical growth. The study is restricted to selected Churches in Lagos, Nigeria.
1.8. Operational Definition of Terms
Evangelism: This is the act of spreading the good news of the Christian faith to non-believers. It’s a practice that aims to convert people to Christianity, often involving preaching, personal testimonies, or other methods of communication to convey the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Discipleship: This refers to the process of teaching someone to follow the teachings and practices of a religious leader or philosophy. In the Christian context, discipleship involves teaching individuals to live according to the teachings of Jesus Christ, often involving study, prayer, and community service.
Sustainable: In the context of church growth, sustainability refers to the ability of a church to maintain its operations, ministries, and growth over a long period of time. This often involves factors like financial stability, strong leadership, and a committed congregation.
Church Spiritual Growth: This refers to the process by which a church community grows in its collective faith and understanding of Christian teachings. It often involves deepening the spiritual life of its members through worship, prayer, study, and service.
Numerical Growth: This refers to the increase in the number of members or attendees in a church. It’s often a measure of a church’s success in evangelism and discipleship, as it indicates that more people are joining the church and participating in its activities.
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Project – Evangelism and discipleship: the indubitable pivots for a sustainable church spiritual and numerical growth