The Christian church has long acknowledged the importance of evangelism. After all, the Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ himself, said,
“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” (Matthew 28:18-20; ESV).
The activities associated here with the command to “go” are often truncated in our understanding to mean merely “convert” or “soul-win.” But our Lord had much more in mind. We are to “make disciples,” baptize, and, even more staggering, “teach them to observe all whatsoever I have commanded you.”
Although I believe that we can and should rightly distinguish between the time a person confesses Christ and the rest of his perservance in the Christian religion, we are in danger of error when making evangelism (in the sense of conversion) as some kind of “end in itself.” Instead, we are to immerse every convert into the Christian religion, baptizing them and teaching them all things, including, presumably, how to worship the true and living God. Our goal is to bring every convert “to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood” (Eph 4:13). Any understanding of the Great Commission that is less than this is disobedient to our Lord’s command.