Search This Blog

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What Part of "Make Disciples" Is Confusing?

I applaud new churches. They are "reaching" people who do not know the gospel more effectively than established churches. Unchurched people are more likely to come to a church that doesn't smell like the churches they have been warned about who judge them.

But many of these churches are like surrogate mothers who are no more than the vessels for the birth. They don't leave their newborns on the doorsteps of those who will care for them. They simply reach out to have more children. They don't realize the damage they are doing because they are doing such a good job in reaching new people. Their doors are open and their seats are filled. They can't see those who are starving for growth.

Maybe they are afraid to spend the time teaching these new "disciples" the word. Wouldn't they have to slow down their numerical growth to take care of their converts spiritual growth? I'll admit I would rather preach to a full room. I would love to see people come to know Christ every week. I might have a whole different attitude if I was good at winning people to Christ. Don't get me wrong. I have baptized several hundred people. I see people come to know Christ but I have never had the success of those I see around me. They see their converts come like water out of a fire hydrant. I see converts come like out of one of those watering cans that are used on your house plants.

But here is my confusion: Didn't Jesus tell us to make disciples? I don't see anywhere that He told us that conversion was enough. Shouldn't the people who come to our churches be mature enough to tell others the reason for the hope that is within them? Shouldn't they know His words? Shouldn't their lives be changed by His word?

Maybe that's why Christians are being converted to the thinking of the world. They adopt the culture around them because the culture of the church has no depth. They don't know what one who believes in Jesus needs to believe to live like he believes. They don't know the dangers of adopting the world's values. They don't know how it affects their families or their testimony. They don't know what makes a Christian distinct from the world.

It is so easy for some to hi-jack the church when those who make up the church don't know what is wrong or right. Heresy enters the church because their are no gatekeepers to warn those inside. Each heretic claims he has revelation beyond that of others. His followers are the elite. He tells them that they are full when they are really empty.

Another problem may be the reluctance of believers to dig deeper into the word. Some preachers may realize that a deeper understanding of the word isn't popular to worldly people. Thus, it is better to appeal to their base desires: to be healthy, rich and famous. People certainly gather around those themes.

But as for me, I can't do this even if it means smaller groups gathering in the church I pastor. I can't call it success if I don't see spiritual growth no matter how many people are sitting in the seats. I believe it is irresponsible to win people to Christ and leave them in the baptism waters to find their own way. I believe they must hear the word and abide in it.

Otherwise, I don't know how they will ever know the truth.

John 8:31-32 (ESV)
31  So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32  and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

1 comment:

Anthony Chia said...

How true, how true.

Over the years I have been to my church, I have found that over time, the sermon time has been cut shorter and shorter, from 1 hour to as short as 20 mins! How deep can you get into a subject or topic with mere 20 mins?! What is more worst, in some churches, everything is explained by grace; with that, how much is really being fed to the congregation? I believe nothing much! If in 6 years of primary education, all one is taught is how to read and write the numbers to 100 and the alphabets, do we get literate people who can function well in society? When the same is applied in churches, we should not be surprised that we get Christians who are no different from those who are non-believers when it comes to handling the affairs of life, be it in their personal life or work life.

They took nothing much from the church to bring to the outside, in the first place. Then they are NOT told they must put to practice what they understand from Word. Over time, increasingly we see no distinctiveness of Christians outside the church. And this is a vicious cycle - the more a Christian does not see other Christians conduct themselves any differently, the more they are encouraged to do the same, to subscribe to the ways of the world when it is "inconvenient" to follow the ways of the Kingdom.

One of the failure of pastors and preachers is that they don't explain enough, that to abide in God words means not just knowing the teachings but to practise or walk out those teachings or truths. Knowing the truth sets us free? No, living out the truth sets us free.

Do not steal. That is from the Word, and that is a truth from the Word. We know it, but if we still go ahead and steal, our knowledge of the Word does not set us free. Instead, even if you get away with it, once or twice, you are under bondage; you are not free, and if you are caught, you will be fined or put behind bars - there is no freedom in that! On the other hand, if you live it out that you will not steal, even if the door of the safe is left ajar, you are indeed free. Even if there are diamonds in there, they do not disturb your peace, nor are you afraid of the police coming.

David had had the opportunity to kill King Saul in the cave, but he did not, for he (David) had been living out the ways of God, and had the mind to continue to do that. That's what abiding is about. Paul knew by going to Jerusalem he would be arrested, yet he still proceeded; and Christ knew He would have to be captured, tortured and to die, yet He continued with what the Father had wanted Him to do; these, too, are examples of abiding, and are what disciples would do.

Many of us, including myself, of course, are nowhere near David, Paul, not to mention, Jesus; yet we must be willing to be discipled and disciple the lesser others. Pastors and preachers, all the more, must be willing to be discipled by The Lord, and to disciple others. Yes, we fail The Lord when we don't.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions