The classic battle in the local church is between in-reach and outreach. There are always arguments that outreach cannot be done until sufficient in-reach is done. Likewise, there are other arguments that churches have so focused on in-reach that no outward expression of faith is seen in the community. Which arguments have you heard in your church, and which side are you on?

Those who emphasize outreach focus on the community. Perhaps they use language like evangelism, soul-winning, service, the meeting of social needs, and numerical growth. There are others who emphasize in-reach. Their vocabulary includes nurturing, mentoring, inner growth, spirituality, development, spiritual discipline, and holy living.

The reality is that both are needed and both feed each other. Like two legs walking, one limb propels us forward so that the next can move the body forward. When working in concert, the two are inseparable. “The more one tries to explain the Word of God to others, with a love for souls, the plainer it becomes to himself. The more we use our knowledge and exercise our powers, the more knowledge and power we shall have” (Christ Object Lessons, 354). “Let ministers teach church members that in order to grow in spirituality, they must carry the burden that the Lord has laid upon them—the burden of leading souls into the truth” (Christian Service, 69).

Member care cannot be nurtured without training and equipping each other to get involved in soul-winning. Soul-winning cannot occur if we do not love and care for one another. Loving and caring cannot occur if we are not following Christ as our Lord and Master. There is no such thing as in-reach without outreach or outreach without in-reach. Discipleship is one continuous process that begins before baptism, continues after baptism, and leads the disciple to become more like Jesus.