Some (though not all) ministries have taken clues from the assembly line, doing everything possible to streamline the manufacture of shiny new Jesus-followers, fresh from the factory floor. But disciples cannot be mass-produced. Disciples are handmade, one relationship at a time. David Kinnaman
It’s pretty obvious. From our entertainment down to our spirituality, America is different from the country it was just a few decades ago. Ours is a rapidly changing culture. There are those who fight against this, preaching that anything remotely contemporary is “worldly”. Like it or not, it is a fact. Things have not only changed past tense, they are presently changing. This is not a post about sociology, but we need to be aware of the society in which we live if we are to effectively carry out the commands of Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20;
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…
As I am sure many of you already know, the great commission, as it is commonly known, is one of the purposes of the church. As evangelical Christians, we are to carry the message of Christ to the world. But that is not all. We are then to take the converted and disciple them. The issue isn’t in doing it. The WHAT isn’t a problem. The issue is HOW. How are we teaching those new to the Christian faith how to be a disciple? How are we training up our children in “…the way that they should go…” (Prov 22:6) so that they are equipped to be a Christian in today’s society? What methods are we using? And the most important question is this: Are those methods effective? Have we adapted those methods to fit the needs of our constantly changing cultural climate?
As a Christian/Father in the 21st century these types of questions haunt me. I will be the first to admit that I definitely don’t have all of the answers. But we have a responsibility to God and gospel to try to find some answers. Christian researcher and author David Kinnaman tackles these issues in his awesome new book You Lost Me: Why young Christians are leaving church and rethinking Faith. I highly recommend it for parents or those in youth ministry. We need to understand WHY people are leaving to help stop this discipleship problem. This is the first of a series of posts that I will be doing on discipleship. I feel that this is one area where we as Christians need to take a long, hard, objective look at our discipleship methods and adapt them to the changing culture around us. I am not speaking of joining the “emergent church” group, or changing our core doctrines or beliefs. But changing methods that don’t work can hardly be a bad thing, right? If a football coach continues to implement a flawed game plan game after game, he would and should be fired. A CEO who refuses to rethink his failing business strategy is an irresponsible boss and should be canned. I understand tradition. I’m a traditional guy. But unless we change our discipleship methods we use our grandchildren will suffer for it. Continuing to use discipleship methods from 1955 in 2012 probably isn’t the best idea. Simply put, we need to change our methods to reach more people. After all, Christ didn’t die for our methodology.
Note the words of some guy named Paul:
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
I Corinthians 9:19-23 ESV
Photo courtesy of James Rice Photography