Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I grew up in a church where we went to Sunday School, Church, Sunday night service and prayer meeting. We even had “youth group” before the Sunday evening service. Typically then I went to church at least 5 different times a week. There aren’t many churches like that anymore for which I am sort of glad.
Yet, I will say one thing about the “good old days”, it was a lot easier to “measure” someone’s spirituality then than it is now. All you had to do then was look around and see who was coming to church. The more services you attended the more spiritual you were. Right? Well, not necessarily. Jesus in his last words to his followers said “to make disciples.” (Matthew 28:20) In those days it was assumed that the more services you went to the better disciple you were. That may have been true, but it wasn’t guaranteed. I tend to agree with the old adage that “Going to church doesn’t make you a disciple any more than going to a garage makes you a car.” That was true then and it is certainly true now. So if going to church doesn’t make you a disciple what does? And how do we measure spiritual maturity?
For one I think it takes more than going to church. Going to church can be a tool for making disciples. Jesus often preached to large crowds, but the most compelling conversations he had were with individuals, conversations that were informal and seemingly unplanned. Jesus challenged people like the rich young ruler to go and sell all that he had. He invited the tax collector to come down from the tree for he was going to his house. He spoke to the woman at the well when no one else would give her the time of day. He also spoke to the woman caught in adultery after everyone else had left and He comforted people like Mary and Martha over the loss of their brother and His friend. He restored Peter with the calling to “feed His sheep.” And the list goes on and on.
Truth is the “old” approach to discipleship though it was simple to implement and measure did not always make disciples. For instance I went to a church where there were at least 300 on Sunday morning but only 30 or 40 on Wednesday night. So if we were depending on the pastors message on Wednesday night to make disciples we were only making disciples of barely a 10th of the congregation. The old approach then of “one size fits all” didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now. Jesus’ commands were not for the pastor or even a few talented teachers to make disciples but for ALL of us to make disciples. So here is my question, “How are you doing at making disciples?” “Who are YOU meeting with both in small groups and individually?” Whose life are you building into and who is building into your life? If we insist on discipleship being in large groups only, then we are going to miss the majority of our audience, but more importantly we are going to miss obeying Christ’s command and after all isn’t that what it is really all about.