I wake up in the morning and go to bed at night thinking about discipleship. I can't tell you how many times a day I think about how we can help Christians grow in their spiritual lives. I believe the lack of personal spiritual growth is the primary reason that so many of our churches seem stagnant. We lack the power to do what is needed for the new believer and as a result, many of these new believers drift into oblivion, or become supporters who do nothing significant in the church.
What are we seeing today? Too many people who want to come to worship on Sunday morning for a little "soul massage". They want to hear good praise music, view different forms of media that connect with the theme of the day, and experience how others are relating to over-all message. Too many folks do not see themselves in the equation at hand. They do not want to be expected to act on anything they hear.
I guess it bothers me to watch people who act religiously on Sunday morning, but there is no fruit eminating from the Sunday morning buds! They want to look religious on Sunday, but the fervor is not translated into the other six days a week. They are not making an effort to grow themselves, much less reaching out to minister to others. Their hands go up in surrender on Sunday morning, but they escape into the world during the week. They stand on Sunday to honor our Lord and maybe be seen by others, but sit down and blend in with others the other days of the week.
We need discipleship, or spiritual growth to be the primary goal of the next decade, probably across the country, if not the world. Without this kind of emphases, evangelism will diminish and probably is on a decline right now. We may see people who are willing to do some street ministry once a month, but it will never become a lfestyle. We might get a few people to take an annual mission trip to the other side of the world, but they will do nothing with their new-found passion when they get home. There will be little outreach from a Sunday school class if the folks are not growing. There will not be a passion for the needs of others, if it cannot be handled by a checkbook or debit card. Do people help others during times of tragedy? You bet we do, but what about some on-going ministries>
I think you get the picture. This is why we need to offer what will grow our people over a 3-5 year period of time. It is one thing to offer the opportunity. It is something else to motivate them enough that they will want to participate. It has to be at the top of one's agenda, People have to understand that you feel that it is of absolute primary importance. It is looking down the road for results and change, not for a successful garage sale this Saturday. We, too often, want the quickie and discipleship does not work that way.
If your church is not investing in discipleship and valuing it as primary, I would bet that most of the plans that you see are short-term in nature, only have a partial, spiritual, emphasis, and may not be affecting human lives, especially people who do not know Christ.
I feel strongly about our ineptness in the 21st century concerning spiritual lives and the impact it has on other people and our churches. Maybe we need to re-evaluate everything about ourselves and re-write where we are going and how we will get there. I would challenge every person who reads this to not blow it off as we often do things, but to let it linger in the reaches of our minds for a period of time. But, BEWARE: it may create a new way of thinking and a new way of looking at the world around us,