In the American church, we’ve preached a moment of salvation as vital, and made a life of discipleship optional. We’ve made justification the Good News, and discipleship the Irrelevant News!
Darrell Stetler II has been a pastor in Oklahoma City since 2003. If you are interested in discipling new Christians, download a free copy of the NewStart Discipleship Journal or take his free training on how to make a discipleship plan. https://www.newstartdiscipleship.com/home
Is it just me, or does it seem like every other week there is really tough news for evangelical believers? Scandals, politics, and deconstruction flood the headlines.
It's no secret that the church in America faces numerous challenges, but I’m an eternal optimist because of grace. I believe there is hope. And that hope lies in the hands of pastors like you and me.
So, let me ask you a question: Does your church value discipleship?
If an alien race landed on the front lawn of your church and observed it for a month, or a quarter, what would they conclude was the mission of your church, if they never read your mission statement, but only observed your actions?
Dallas Willard once said, "Undiscipleship is the dirty little secret of Christianity."
He’s right. In the American church, we’ve preached a moment of salvation as vital, and made a life of discipleship optional. We’ve made justification the Good News, and discipleship the Irrelevant News!
The bottom line is this: We’ve “undiscipled” our way into the mess we’re in, and the only solution is to disciple our way back out of it.
Christianity has become diluted, reduced to mere religious rituals and Sunday services. Millions of Americans attend church, but how many of those attendees are truly committed disciples of Christ?
Millions more never attend church, but think wearing crosses and voting a particular way is what it means to be Christian.
The culprit cannot be as simple as:
While all of these things are a problem, they are symptoms of our lack, not its causes. They are replacements for discipleship. What is a restless pining for political influence if it is not a failure to recognize a higher Kingdom? What is social media anger if it is not “calling down fire” like immature disciples of Jesus?
Frankly, I don’t care whether you meet in a building with 70s wood paneling or LED walls, as long as the people there imitate Jesus, and are making other imitators of him.
THAT is what we need!
Discipleship lies at the core of our calling as pastors. Jesus Himself commanded us to "go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). We are not called to be event planners or motivational speakers; we are called to be disciple-makers. Discipleship is about cultivating a deep and personal relationship with Jesus Christ, guiding others to do the same, and equipping them to go out and make disciples themselves. It's a lifelong journey of transformation and obedience to Christ's teachings.
Disciples are people who learn about Christ for the purpose of obeying Him, and imitating Him.
As church leaders, we cannot afford to ignore the urgency of this hour. The Church in America is in desperate need of revival, and it must start with us. One revival preacher of years gone by said, “The Church is more to blame for not being revived than sinners are for not being converted.” This is true. And those who must take responsibility for leading that transformation – the pastors of America.
My grandfather was a down-home Georgia boy, raised on dirt roads. He used to stand before a group of pastors that he led, and say, “There’s a big job to be done, and we the fellas to do it!”
Don’t let that sketchy grammar make you miss the point.
We are God’s plan A for our churches… and there is no plan B.
We must lead by example, prioritizing discipleship above all else. Our churches should be communities of authentic disciples, where people are nurtured, challenged, and transformed by the power of the Gospel. It's time to go beyond Sunday sermons and delve into intentional relationships, mentorship, small groups, and biblical teaching that shapes hearts and minds.
Now, here comes the challenge: We must be the difference we want to see in the Church. It starts with evaluating our own hearts and ministries. Are we truly prioritizing discipleship, or have we become complacent, content with the status quo?
Here are a few practical steps we can take:
It's time for us to rise up, rekindle the flame of discipleship, and be the catalyst for change in your own circle of influence!
Let's prioritize discipleship, not as an afterthought, but as the very essence of our ministry. Together, we can create communities of committed followers of Christ who will impact the world with the transforming power of the Gospel. The journey may be challenging, but the rewards – ah, those are eternal!
Are you ready to be the difference your church needs?
Remember, it starts with you. Let's value discipleship!
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