Every day something crosses my desk or my computer screen that promises the “silver bullet” to our desperation in ministry.
There are the inevitable – 10 ways to stop driving away visitors or 8 Reasons why people aren’t coming back or 12 signs of mediocrity in the church or 7 ways to respond as people attend church less often or 10 reasons why young people don’t like church or 10 things you can do now to make sure your church will grow.
It’s out there every day…
So as you might guess…many people are looking for that Silver bullet – that one thing that could turn things around for the contemporary church.
Many are convinced…if we just have that one program…or that one doctrinal secret…or something that can “poof” and solve our problems than we will embrace it with all our might and turn this baby around.
But you know what? There is NO Silver bullet – well, at least there isn’t a silver bullet that is something is easy to apply to our lives.
The ONLY silver bullet that exists out there is something called discipleship and trust me, discipleship…building disciples…building disciples that are not only faithful to Jesus but also are, by nature, reproductive is darn near impossible in what most of the contemporary church has become. Discipleship takes a while. If it wasn’t for the power of Jesus’ presence through the Spirit of God, I think it would be fair to say that we would be lost.
Discipleship isn’t about landscaping schemes or building blueprints…it isn’t about getting that right staff person or dynamic pastor…it isn’t really about a style of music or whether or not we celebrate communion this week or not.
And discipleship is definitely not about doing another church program or having the right sermon series…it just isn’t.
Discipleship is about ONE person who desires to follow Jesus learning from Jesus how to follow Him and then teaching and demonstrating to another how to do the exact same thing And instead of this thing happening once in a while, it happens daily not in church buildings but in coffee shops, living rooms, break rooms, and restaurants around the community.
1 Corinthians 11:1 “be imitators of me as I am of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 4:16 “I urge you then be imitators of me.” I don’t see this as overly complicated – Paul seems to be saying plainly that imitation is a core part of being a disciple – you see everyone needs to be trained to be like his or her teacher, Jesus. That’s what the disciples of Jesus did…that’s what we need to do – be about the process of imitation – that’s how we learn and that’s how we grow.
It’s always been that way – since we were little kids – we learned by observing and watching and listening and then ACTING out what we saw someone else “do.”
Friends, don’t let discipleship in your life be all about information – information doesn’t change the world. Disciples are made on the mission field, not in classrooms.
So, this challenging dynamic boils down to TWO questions:
1 – Who are you watching? In other words, who’s mentoring you…who do you have in your life whom you say, “there I want to love and follow Jesus JUST LIKE THEM.”
I’m getting to the point these days where I don’t feel any compulsion to teach you more information about God…but I do feel a HUGE accountability to make sure that you are mature in Jesus as His disciple and that you start acting on what it means to be a disciple.
2 – Who’s watching you? Is your life worth imitating from a Kingdom perspective…and if not, why not?
Friends, it has taken us centuries to get to where we are today. For many of us, we have spent our lives learning how to run a church, design a worship service, run a Sunday school or other church program…we are experts on budgets and buildings. It will take us a while, in fact, we have to be completely retrained when it comes to relearning what it means to be a dynamic, organic community that is dependent on the Holy Spirit to see if new life can be breathed into us again. A DNA or paradigm shift is occurring and it doesn’t happen overnight.
Discipleship … learning how to be disciples, train disciples, release disciples and make disciples will take some time.
In the meantime, we’ve got to learn to love and follow Jesus – be His disciples and pray that He will energize us to disciple others as He is discipling us.