1 877-431-4276

What’s the Difference Between Evangelism and Discipleship?

Two words that are often used in Christianity are evangelism and discipleship. Some use these two words interchangeably, but they are actually two different things. Let’s take a look at what each of them is and how they are different.

What is Evangelism?

Evangelism is the act of spreading the Gospel. It is telling people about who Jesus is and giving them a chance to respond to the Gospel by speaking with them and communicating God’s love to them.

Evangelism tends to be the start of someone’s journey in their faith. Through evangelism, many will come to hear the Gospel, some even for the first time, and either believe and want to know more, or continue on their way.

Whether we realize it or not, all Christians have been evangelized in some way. Whether it was a friend who told you about Jesus and the Bible, or you heard it on the street, that still is evangelism. It is simply the spreading of the Gospel message.

What is Discipleship?

Discipleship takes evangelism a step further by taking someone who has been evangelized and now teaching them what it means to be a Christian.

The word ‘disciple’ means to be a follower or a student of some kind of philosophy or way of living. Think about the disciples in the Bible. They spent endless time with Jesus, learning from Him, hearing Him teach and adopting His ways in their own lives.

Another word for discipleship could even be mentoring. To disciple someone is to take them under your wing and live life with them, supporting them and building them up to be more mature in their faith.

Discipleship is, in fact, the great commission that all followers of Jesus were given when Jesus ascended into heaven:

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of 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.”

Discipleship was the final command that we were given by Jesus. It is to go and build people up in Christ to be strong believers and followers of Jesus, observing all that Jesus commanded us.

How Do Evangelism and Discipleship Relate to One Another?

You could say that discipleship starts with evangelism. If someone were to come to Christ and then begin to learn what it means to be a Christ-follower from someone else, they would first be evangelized to accept the Gospel, and then begin to be discipled.

The reason why this is important becomes clear when we look at most churches today. Many churches today have nailed what it looks like to evangelize and bring people the Gospel. They’re having events where they preach the Gospel and they’re getting out into the community to witness to people and share their faith with others. However, many are missing out on the discipleship part.

This would be the equivalent of getting someone excited and interested in flying a plane but never teaching them how to fly. When they get behind the controls and get off the ground, when the storms come and they enter a cloud, they’ll, unfortunately, crash and burn.

This is what happens when we evangelize but don’t disciple. We are giving people new life by spreading the Gospel and getting them excited about following Jesus, but we aren’t teaching them how to actually do so. Instead, what often happens is that churches move on to the next evangelism event without discipling and helping those who were evangelized at the previous event.

This often creates a lot of confusion and doubt in many new believers’ minds as to their decision. Some may think that they just had to initially believe and can now go back to living the same way they were living before. Others may have doubt about the validity of the Gospel since they aren’t being helped to understand what to do next. When it comes to evangelism and discipleship, you simply cannot have one without the other.

So, let us get out and share our faith, but let us also disciple those who are learning and build one another up to be mature believers in Christ. Then those disciples can go and evangelize and disciple others, building the Kingdom as it was always meant to happen.


Evangelist Daniel King, D.Min is on a mission to lead people to Jesus. He has visited over seventy nations preaching good news and he has led over two million people in a salvation prayer. He is often called “The Evangelism Coach.” To support King Ministries in our quest for souls, click here!