What Ever Happened to Discipleship?
- Wednesday, February 14, 2007
The "modern" idea of church, or ecclesiology, it seems is that the church exists only as a venue to "attract" the lost through dynamic programs, performances and events - the more dynamic the better. What one pastor friend of mine referred to as "theo-tainment." The problem with this approach exclusively is that a disproportionate amount of the church's time and resources go into these efforts at the expense of discipleship and training the already saved. The result is the proverbial church that "is a mile wide and inch deep." Yes the church grows in numbers but rarely in spiritual maturity and the witness of the Church is often rendered lackluster.
Furthermore, this approach seems to ignore Christ's final command, "Therefore go 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 28:18-20) This is the duty and work of every Christian that is carried out through our relationships with the lost in which we endeavor to persuade them into the Truth and training up those already in the faith. In both cases, this process never ends this side of eternity.
Scripture is full of admonitions on this point. One of the most direct in my mind is Romans 12:1-2 which challenges us "by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
This passage speaks to the fact that the resurrection of Christ and our adoption into the family of God demands a wholly new way of understanding the cosmos and the human situation in the cosmos. EVERYTHING relative to our view of reality must change and this new view must be integrated into every aspect of our lives and thinking. This is the role and necessity of Christian discipleship in producing this new way of thinking accompanied by obedience, i.e. presenting the entirety of our being as a living sacrifice.
It is astonishing to note that despite the growing body of evidence demonstrating the American church's failure to adequately and holistically disciple the faithful into maturity; the leadership in so many of our churches continue to do the same thing expecting different results, employing the same paradigm that emphasizes programmatic evangelism rather than making disciples. Where are the courageous men and women who will raise their voices in the church to lead our congregations back to truly fulfilling the Great Commission?
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S. Michael Craven is the Founding Director of the Center for Christ & Culture, a ministry of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families. The Center for Christ & Culture is dedicated to renewal within the Church and works to equip Christians with an intelligent and thoroughly Christian approach to matters of culture in order to recapture and demonstrate the relevance of Christianity to all of life. For more information on the Center for Christ & Culture, additional resources and other works by S. Michael Craven visit: www.battlefortruth.org.
Michael lives in the Dallas area with his wife Carol and their three children.
© 2007 S. Michael Craven
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