“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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20
I am not about programs. I am not about numbers. I am not about increasing worship attendance. I am not about receiving new members. I am not about keeping Christians busy. Nowhere in scripture do I see any attention given to the church focusing on these things.
What I am about is discipleship—forming Living Proof Disciples who strive for a closer relationship with Jesus so that they can be more like Jesus.
Becoming living proof of God’s love means that we strive to become like Jesus. Jesus is God’s best example of what living proof of His love looks like. The Greek word for disciple, mathetes, means apprentice or student or learner. A disciple is on a life-long quest to become more and more like the master. When God became flesh and dwelt among us, Jesus literally became living proof of God’s love. Jesus is THE example of what living proof of God’s love really looks like. So, as we seek to become Living Proof Disciples, we are seeking to become more and more like Jesus. That’s discipleship. It’s about Jesus.
Jesus was clear in his great commission, “Go and make disciples.” We’ve confused making disciples with growing the church. Our job as a church is not to grow the church…that’s Jesus’ job, “Upon this rock I (Jesus) will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). At Pentecost, it was clear how the church would grow, “Day by day, the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”(Acts 2:47). We have spent so much time focusing on doing someone else’s job…no wonder the church universal has been losing people.
It’s not about membership—it’s about discipleship.
It’s not about attendance – it’s about faithfulness.
It’s not about numbers – it’s about obedience.
It’s not about the church—it’s about Jesus!
The good news is, if we get busy forming Living Proof Disciples who strive to be like Christ, the church grows! In the book, “Building A Discipling Culture,” Mike Breen makes an inflammatory suggestion about the problem of declining churches, “We don’t have a mission problem, we have a discipleship problem!” If we make disciples effectively, the church will grow. If we make disciples effectively, we will change the world. That’s simply what disciples do. And the renewed vision and mission of Christ Church challenges us to do just that!
Mission statements, sermons, curriculum, or programs never transformed anyone. It’s intentional discipleship that transforms people. As Breen puts it, “Effective discipleship builds the church, not the other way around.” If we start with trying to build the church by attracting people to our programs, worship, preachers, etc. then it is far more likely we will form consumers of religious services not disciples of Jesus Christ who transform the world. But if we focus on effective discipleship, we will always achieve our mission. Always. Because simply put, that’s what disciples do.
Respond to this below: What do you think, does the church have a discipleship problem?