Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Let's Get Back to Basics!

I read a statement a few months ago that has stayed with me in an almost haunting fashion. “Most believers are not equipped to do more than attend church.” On the surface this sounds like a tremendously over-stated exaggeration doesn’t it? Is it? I submit that there is more truth than myth in that statement. As being so it breaks my heart.

For every one church that is intentionally and strategically making disciples there are a huge number of churches that have become adept at information transfer and warehousing Christians. Almost all evangelical churches today utilize the “lecture” means of providing biblical and religious information to its constituency. It seems we have deliberately chosen to abandon the dialogue that use to exist in the early church as exhortations were given of scripture passages.

Jim Putman in his book real-life discipleship (sic) writes: “The ministry life of many churches is dominated by committee meetings and worship services and counseling sessions, but in many cases these produce little lasting fruit. Our churches make few converts. Few Christians have authentic, accountable relationships, and many are not growing in their faith. Few give, few serve in the church, and most live for the same things that nonbelievers do…Some [churches] are chasing fads. Others are asking how to modernize biblical words, worship services, or even our theology so it will be more to the liking of the potential consumer.” [1]

Putman goes on to say that organization is not the problem. Therefore we do not have to either re-organize in order to disciple nor do we have to de-organize in order to make disciples. We can add and organize any number of ministries we desire but if we are not intentionally making disciples we are like the office worker who hopes to organize, and clean his office by merely moving a piece of paper from one side of his desk to the other side. We cannot keep “shuffling” people or ministries around like stacks of paper on a crowed desk.

First, let me say, that I am aware of the fact that there are a number of dedicated and hardworking Sunday school teachers, Children’s Church workers, VBS leaders and workers, and Sunday classes from youth to our golden-agers. I do not desire to demean anyone of them as they serve God tirelessly in these positions. Second, I would advocate that we take a hard look at the “product” that is being produced by these ministries. The question that begs to be asked, “Are these ministries actually designed with a clear and uncomplicated way of training disciples to make disciples? Or, are these ministries merely dispensing information?

It is one thing to know God’s name, his address (place of residence), his Son’s name, and some of his likes and dislikes; it is altogether another thing to know him intimately and relationtionally. It is also another thing to be equipped and trained to make a disciple in accordance with the great commission in Matthew 28. We need to get to basics.


Join Gospel-driven Disciples each Wednesday as we bring articles, 
news, and information about Discipleship and the making of disciples.

[1] Jim Putman, real-life discipleship, (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2010), p. 10


Larri said...

Interesting and thought-provoking post, Gregg. I'll have to meditate on it a bit. Happy Wednesday! ☺


I believe one dosen't have to go to church to talk to God, We can talk to him any place, any where.
I appreciate is lovely to attend church when one is home and well, but there are many who because of illnesses can't attend.

I enjoyed your post Gregg Hope you can understand what I am trying to say.

Take care.


John Patrick Donovan said...

The commision was not to simply go, not to make converts, but to go and make deciples. Great post Gregg.


Discovered your blog and site.
Will add it to my list of "Better Blogs" on Abundant Life Now.
God bless.

Scott said...

Indeed, one on one discipleship seems to be a lost art. Every Paul ought to have a Timothy, etc. Good thoughts.

mikew116 said...

You know, I've worked with the bus route for three years now and am probably going to replace somebody working with the other children's programs in our church and that is one of my greatest fears--superficial, nothing converts. We need to learn to make disciples God's way, thanks for the great post, Bro. Gregg.

Meghan New said...

I'm so glad you are going to start doing this on Wednesdays! In my most recent youth newsletter I decided to post a section about what I'm teaching on that month so parents can talk about it with their kids during the week. I hope that helps some because it's mainly the parents' job to raise the youth, and churches just equip them.

IanH said...

Gregg, this is very thought provoking! Thanks for posting.

Trisha said...

And what a great reminder for parents to not rely on a once a week church attendance as a means to disciple their children. The truth of the gospel must be lived out before our children, by the grace of God, each moment of the day. Thought-provoking post, Gregg!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree! Getting back to basics is sorely needed in our modern day churches. To often entertainment has taken the place of biblical discipleship, especially in our youth ministries.

Keena said...

YES, we need to get back to basics.

Petra said...

Jim Putman has hit the nail on the head. Thank you for expounding it! Blessings!