Wednesday, August 17, 2011

We Can't Afford To Fail?

Gospel-driven Discipleship

Tom Nelson of Denton Bible Church in Texas wrote:

“If we as a church succeed in every area, but fail to make disciples who can spiritually multiply, then ultimately we have failed. Yet if we fail in every other area, but succeed in spiritual multiplication, then ultimately we have succeeded.”

Most people choose churches today as consumers who are choosing a product for its value, benefit, and how a product minimizes their life. Allow me to explain; many people with children or teen-agers choose a church primarily for its youth group or children’s ministries. Those who love music may choose a church primarily for its choir or musical opportunities. Of course others choose for various reasons such as family tradition, location, friendliness, the pot-lucks, and even leadership personalities.

If reasons for choosing a church can be ranked or ordered, they would be as follows:

Pulpit Ministry – by that I mean does the pulpit preach and teach the bible systematically, exegetically, and expositionally? Is the teaching truly biblical and is it empowered by the Holy Spirit? As preaching becomes more entertaining, pragmatic, emasculated, and worldly to accommodate larger crowds and budgets it is becoming more difficult to first, define and recognize biblical preaching and second, to find it.

To choose a church that has a weak, inconsistent, or trivialized pulpit because it has a “dynamic” youth ministry is both dangerous and foolish. There is a fundamental problem when a family, particularly the head of the home chooses a biblically or scripturally unsound church in order for the kids to have friends, fun, and food.

Commitment to the pulpit Teaching – an important question that needs to be answered, do the members by God’s grace and as they mature live out what is being taught in the pulpit. More and more we are seeing a disconnect between what is being taught or preached and what is actually being lived out by individual believers.

If the pulpit has no impact on the membership one must take notice. In some cases a Teaching Elder may be trying to “…strengthen what remains and is about to die…” In time can one tell if the members are affected by the pulpit ministry (teaching and preaching) or are they being entertained, maintained, pacified, and made comfortable for the journey? Take time when visiting a church and not as a judge or jury, but observe the overall language, focus, interest, and love of the people. Can you observe that they teaching has made a true impact and the folks who are long time members are truly living out what is being taught?

Disciple-Making Commitment – are the members matured to the point where they can themselves can effectively make disciples? Or is this ministry at best left to the Elders or at worst non-existent? It is easier to grow numerically from means such as sheep-rustling, disgruntled church members, church-hoppers, and church-consumers than to become involved in the lives of the lost, introduce them to Christ and then teach them everything that Christ taught until they are able to do the same themselves.

Rick Wood from Missions Frontiers wrote:

“Our churches in the West seem to be succeeding at lesser things while failing at Jesus core strategy for world evangelization. We are succeeding in collecting tens of billions of dollars each year to gather large crowds into beautiful and expensive church buildings on Sunday. We have succeeded in putting on a great show and developing programs that attract people to our churches. In the process we have put an unbearable burden on our pastors to do nearly all the ministry while failing to activate the laity. As a result many pastors are skating on the edge of burnout, while the majority of church members do not see that God has any other role for them except as spectators. In short, we are largely failing to develop mature followers of Jesus who are able to make disciples who can make disciples. The people in our churches are not growing to spiritual maturity where they are able to carry on the work of spreading the gospel within our own culture, not to mention cross-culturally to every tribe and tongue. This is having a devastating impact on our ability to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth."

Youth ministries, music programs, and good ole fun are wonderful things. However, think of them as icing on a good cake. Icing is fun to eat on your fingers or a spoon, but the cake is extremely important. When one can gather with a body of believers that has a biblical pulpit ministry, where members are being impacted by the teaching and are living it out, and discipleship is actually taking place AND the children’s/youth ministries are dynamic then one needs to lock oneself in and plan on remaining for the rest of one’s life.

Please, don’t forgo doctrinal purity, godly/mature lives, and obedience to Christ for lesser ministries. You will usually regret the choice in the long run. Use the resources that are available in a sound bible teaching church to make up for what is missing in other areas by teaching, modeling, and living out the truth for your kids.
Join us on Gospel-driven Discipleship Wednesdays as we continue to highlight discipleship with various articles, news, events, opinions, and book reviews as I work toward fulfilling the five purposes of this blog  (see right sidebar of blog) and continue to supply biblical principles of discipleship. I hope to provide the reader with teachings related to beginning, intermediate, and advanced steps that enhance the discipleship process.


welcome to my world of poetry said...

I loved the paragraph about "The Icing On The Cake" very cleveryly written Gregg.
A good post altogether.


Scott said...

Amen! Just what I was saying.

Petra said...

I wish I could remember who did the study... Anyhoo, this study I can't source has found that most young people seem to be more drawn to a true and meaty pulpit ministry than to some good entertainment/program. When the entertainment can no longer excite, its followers drop away. Conversely, if the teaching is solid, the young tend to return and remain. Blessings!

Meghan Smith said...

Excellent, Gregg. It's very hard to make disciples who make disciples. The Lord has blessed me with kids who bring friends who bring friends, but still, are they retaining what I teach? I do think it's going to help to get the parents on board to what I'm teaching. Thanks for these!

Persis said...

"Please, don’t forgo doctrinal purity, godly/mature lives, and obedience to Christ for lesser ministries. You will usually regret the choice in the long run. "

Great post, Gregg.