Backward May be the Way Forward
Maybe to go forward we need to go back. Way back.
This week’s blog is a little different for me. (You may think it sounds a little “preachy” and admittedly these are just my personal musings). But it’s near to my heart and something often on my mind as I talk with pastors.
Not that we really discuss it openly. It’s like the proverbial elephant in the room.
Now, I realize my blog reaches across denominational lines and to pastors of various sizes and flavors of churches. I still ask you to consider what I suggest here even though, well, your mileage may vary.
The American Church as a whole – with notable exceptions, of course – currently finds itself in a state of decline. As I said, not all. You can find plenty of teams planting churches and thriving congregations. I hope yours is among them. Still, many of our fellow ministers struggle daily with the reality of declining congregations. And we feel their pain.
I don’t know all the answers for moving forward in our post-modern, post-Christian era, with belief in God and church attendance in American continuing to slip from previous numbers.
However, I would like to discuss one thing I believe is key.
Of course we all believe in discipleship. Jesus commissioned us to go and make disciples. Church mission statements reflect this focus.
But do we really disciple people?
Before there were churches, Jesus started with 12. Twelve disciples into whom he poured his life. Yes, he ministered to and healed the masses, but it was the 12 with whom he lived with and mentored and taught by example.
Those 12 carried the gospel forth. Jesus converted many, healed many - but they did not ultimately spread the news about Jesus across the known world. They weren’t the ones who carried the torch and planted churches and made other disciples. The 12 – those discipled by Jesus - did that work.
Certainly, we teach Christ to our church members. But are we really discipling and equipping people to remain steadfast in Christ when times get hard? To live out their Christian principles? To utilize the gifts God has placed in them? To reach the next generation for Christ?
Maybe what we need isn’t a new program. Maybe it’s more like a return to something old. Maybe the way back is the way forward.
Also, I’d like to leave you with this challenge: reflect on how you became discipled in the Christian faith. What is one step you could take towards greater discipleship of someone or someone’s this year?
I would love to hear your thoughts and engage in some discussion on this.