I am becoming increasingly concerned with how our churches define discipleship. I wonder how we measure whether discipleship is taking place...Here are some possibilities.
1. The Do-a-ton-and-hope Method.
Many churches are inundated with programs. The thought is that if we offer a variety of options, we'll reach a variety of people and the programs magically turn people into disciples. This is filled with good intentions (we all know where good intentions lead right?) The problem is that we create a consumer mindset for people...and they think that its all about them and their needs, preferences, and desires. But authentic discipleship gets followers of Jesus to need, preference and desire God.
2. The Nickels and Noses Approach
If giving is up and attendance is up, then discipleship must be up. While I don't want to discredit these as signs of a thriving church, I also don't want to suggest that we can pay and attend our way into the Kingdom. Showing up and putting a penny in the plate does not exempt you from obedience to the King.
3. The Information Overload Operation
One of the more common approaches is to get people to study the Bible and I am one hundred percent on board with this...but the problem I'm seeing is that people read the Bible and have no inclination to pursue obedience to what it says. So they can memorize the scripture...identify important Greek words in the Scripture...tell you the socio-historical and rhetorical contexts that surround the Scripture...but rarely do they actually obey the Scripture...Sometimes the last thing we need in our churches is another Bible Study or another sermon. Sometimes we just need people who obey.
4. The 30 Minute Sermon to fill me up, sustain me and change me Mindset
For many, discipleship depth is as deep as a 30 minute message each Sunday can take us. Your pastor is not responsible for your closeness to God! The verse doesn't say "Have your pastor draw you near to God and God will draw near to you." It says (You!)Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
So does one of these models hit home or represent your church? Is there another faulty discipleship model going on in your church/ministry?
Tomorrow I'll throw out something that is stirring in my church.