Why are churches stuck?
This couldn’t be any more frustrating not only for the leadership team, but the lay congregants who are trying to follow. The followers who are following a leader who isn’t leading well!
You know something is a bit off, though no one seems to know why. Speaking only of the glorious times in the past where now it seems as though God’s hands have been removed and is a far distant memory.
The present helplessness leads to a future hopelessness that causes churchgoers to jump to another church wagon next door and continue on doing the same thing over-and-over again, expecting a different result.
If your ministry has a leadership problem it has a discipleship problem. You can’t make disciples and not develop leaders.
Here are four myths about discipleship that I believe has crippled our churches.
What is “discipleship“?
Though the english word, “discipleship” never occurs in the bible, defining a disciple is fairly easy, in my view.
The Greek word, “μαθητεύω” (Lexicon : Strong’s G3100 Mathe-Teuwo) is the word that Scripture uses for “disciple,” and it means learner.
In other words, disciples are people who LEARN to BE like Jesus and learn to DO what Jesus could do. One great writer on discipleship put it this way:
Discipleship is the process of becoming who Jesus would be if he were you.
As we see in the New Testament in the books of Acts 14:21,
“And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,”
The verb, “make-disciples” is one Greek word. It is the entire process of salvation from conversion, baptism, teaching the ways of Jesus as it is used in Matthew 28:19-20 in the Great Commissions.
The word, “disciple” in the New Testament does not mean a second-stage-Christian. There are some ministry build upon this, it is unbiblical.
There are converts, and then disciples (second-stage-disciples) those who learn more. All these are linguistically foreign to the New Testament.
Disciple was not a favorite term for a Christian. Paul seems to never use the noun or the verb in his epistles or letters. The noun or verb, “make disciples” ever occur outside of the gospel and the Acts!
However, the reality is people need to be converted and be taught about Christ. Think, feel, act like a disciple as a follower of Jesus. Those who embrace Him as Lord and Savior.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Programs are not bad, however programs are tools in your discipleship process. We must first start with the right place.
As Eric Geiger serves as the vice president of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources said it well,
“One of the biggest mistake ministry leaders make is they start with their programming. Don’t start with your programming, start with your discipleship process.” – Eric Geiger
What kind of disciple are they going to make? What is the process (blue-print) of making disciples? Clarify your discipleship process.
Pastors our goal should not be to build a Mega church. Our goal is to build a healthy church with mature believers.
Mark Dever the president of 9Marks ministry in his book Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus said it well,
“Churches don’t need programs so much as they need cultures of discipling, cultures where each member prioritizes the spiritual health of others.” – Mark Dever
How can we tell if one cares more about numbers rather than spiritual health?
If you use the phrase “every soul matters to God” to celebrate numbers, but don’t disciple the numbers, it’s doubtful you care for those souls.
The call to discipleship is a fundamental redirection of our human existence. It is a re-orientation, an all-embracing turning about of our lives in order that our affections might be placed primarily upon Christ.
Ultimately, discipling involves living out the whole Christian life before others.
Every Christian should be helping others believers to more maturity in Christ. We should seek to get help from others for themselves and keep on growing in Christ.
Every church should think through how all of these biblical disciple-making find expression in their corporate life.