I’ve been thinking a lot about discipleship. As I have served a small rural congregation and have been slowly growing into pastoral ministry, I’ve had to rethink a lot of what I’ve either assumed or been taught concerning discipleship, and as I’ve reflected and observed people and their “faith journey,” I’ve come to the following conclusions:
(1) The Church is not very good at making disciples. This is not just an American phenomenon. I’ve heard some well intentioned people attempt to pain a picture that suggests that only in America is discipleship an issue; however, this is not true. The task of making disciples as outlined in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) is difficult for a variety of reasons in every culture that I’ve been in.
(2) People tend to resist the necessity of discipleship. This is, as I see it, the heart of the issue. People resist making disciples and people resist being discipled. Sadly, other than a decent group of new people, the majority of people who are a part of the congregation that we are in has been discipled in the biblical sense. Sure, people have attended classes and conferences and lots of worship gatherings, but few have embarked on the journey of NT Christianity. At the surface level, many people simply are unaware of the cost and demand of discipleship. At a deeper level, people resist commitment and accountability. It is my prayer that “mature” Christians would take seriously Jesus’ mandate to make disciples and people who are brought into the faith would be introduced immediately of the cost of following Christ!
(3) Most “programs” or “methods” for making disciples are fundamentally flawed. This may sound arrogant, but only if I claimed to have a “new” program or method. I do not. What I do have is Scripture. And I have also taken the time to filter through a long list of resources by a variety of well-intentioned people. If statistics show us anything, they show us that these programs and methods are largely ineffective. Numeric growth is not equivalent to growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Perhaps we need to spend less time developing “programs” and “methods” that are absent of NT protocol. I’m not suggesting that all of these resources don’t contribute. The problem is that some of the foundational axioms of discipleship are often left to the way-side.