In the majority of evangelical churches across the globe, with the technological advancement we have more access to information than ever. We have more conferences than ever, more sermons on the tip of our fingers, more books than one can read in a life time, yet fewer conversions and baptism. We have more people writing blogs than ever, yet fewer commitment to making disciples. Indeed, we have a more than enough resources, yet seems the opposite and failing to fulfill the Great Commissions.
Today, seminary students are taught how to preach and lead a congregation, but have no idea whatsoever how to carry out the simple Great Commission mandate to make disciples.
I remember as a Bible college student studying to become a pastor as I was in college, I could comprehend the simple message of the gospel. I memorized Matthew 28:19-20 the Great Commission then it dawned on me and I remember thinking to myself,
“You may have been a Christian as long as you can remember and you can go through your college life 4 years never baptize or make a disciple. I know we will still bring excuses by and justify by saying, ‘Well, that’s not time to do it right now. It’s study time and it’s a time to get away.’
But deep down in your heart, I knew it didn’t make sense. Knowing the truth of the fact that people who I walk across in my city, just a block away from my church that those people will die of eternity separated from God doesn’t seem right. I was singing and listening to all these glorious songs and said, “Shouldn’t we do something about it?”
So, why don’t we want to make disciples and see our churches grow? Here are four reasons why churches don’t grow.
1. We rather have our hands clean; we don’t want to get messy.
It’s extremely a sad reality. We don’t want the drug addicts, we don’t want the prostitute, we don’t want the felon out of jail in church. Yet if we want to look a bit more like Jesus, we may have to reconsider this.
“3 words were constantly upon Jesus’ lips: the least, the last, and the lost.” – E. Stanley Jones
You have to get your hands dirty. That’s something that no one wants to do it. Church is like family. It gets real messy. You find about people’s dirt. It’s messy cause it’s family.
For this very reason, you may have a greater distance between the Pastor and the congregants than ever before. Throughout history, pastors have lived incarnate lives amongst the community and lived by their very church in a parsonage. Instead even in Urban areas we see pastors leaving the city and living in the suburbs and driving into minister in the city. The distance between the pastor and the congregation means there is less life-on-life engagement and less moral accountability one with another.
Sadly, pastors often do not have relationships at all with their flock. As a wise man told me once, “You’re not a pastor Jonathan, unless you find wool on your shoulder” Pastor cannot be a pastor without the sheep.
2. We want the easy way out; we excuse ourselves at the altar of, “Busyness”
Relationship takes time and we don’t want to take the time.
“I’m too busy” I’ve hear this all the time. In reality, “Too busy” is a myth. People make time for the things that are really important to them. What busyness does is it makes us stop caring about the things that we ought to care about most. Busyness robs us from being able to do things that really matter to God’s agenda. It’s not about “having” time. It’s about “making” time.
“Busyness does not mean you are a faithful or fruitful Christian. It only means you are busy just like everyone else.” – Kevin DeYoung
Yes, life is crazy busy for all of us. So, stop the excuse of being busy. I am busy too. Change or die for our excuses are choking the life of the church and we don’t even notice it! Nobody is too busy. It’s just a matter of priorities. I believe busyness kills more Christians than bullets.
Churches grow when they have the priority of making disciples. We must first begin as the pastor leading the staff and the staff leading out and building other leaders. Until the staff level gets it, then the pew of the people won’t get it. The staffs have to live it out and build other leaders or we won’t make a change. We cannot expect our church to emulate something that we ourselves are not emulating.
3. We want to stay in the pulpit; we do not live amongst the people.
I think at times (most of the time), it is a lot easier when we are the spotlight and preaching for 30-40 mins and just preach, get in the vehicle and drive back off home and do the same thing the following week.
Why? Because then you really don’t have to care for their real-life issues. For the pastor, he really doesn’t have to see the people and not be held accountable whether that is really lived out or not. And the flock continues to do the same thing over, and over, and over again….. just sitting there quietly. Rather than doing life 24/7 like Jesus did with his disciples, church became somewhere people attend on Sundays rather than a family.
Perhaps this is why Matthew Henry lamented some preachers who, “when in the pulpit, preaching so well that it is a pity they should ever come out; but, when out of the pulpit, living so ill that it is a pity they should ever come in.”
4. We want to do church work; we don’t want to do Christ work.
We would rather do church work, rather than Christ work. No, Christ didn’t want that from us. Christ wants us to love people like those in real authentic relationship.
Part of the problem there that we have forgotten of the Great Commandment and think about the Great Commission. If we don’t do the Great Commandment than our Great Commission is shallow!
Sunday morning then for many is a show case of many of the best pictures of our greatest accomplishment on display. Most of us don’t want to be real and let our guards down. We are in a sense like the Pharisees, “Jesus thank you that I’m not like that person over there!” till we get pass that, we are not going to make an impact for the kingdom ministry.
Just Doing LIFE Together Rather Than Another Program
Most training to make disciples is going to happen doing life in true relationship with one another.
Therefore, making disciples is far more than a program. It is the mission of our lives. It defines us. A disciple is a disciple maker.
Programs are labor intensive to begin then it’s just maintenance. People require constant work. This is why most choose programs over people.
That is reality for churches today. We want to do church, but we don’t want to live Christ. We can only change when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. I pray that all of us will change, for the sake of the display of the beauty and the glory of God.