George Barna, the founder and director of the Christian research group known as the Barna Group took his team and evaluated churches across America to determine how we’re doing with the task of making disciples. Based on his findings, he asserts, “Almost every church in our country has some type of discipleship program or set of activities, but stunningly few churches have a church of disciples.”1 Indeed, we have gradually set our eyes on the wrong priorities and the wrong measuring rods. The average church leader concludes that we’re doing OK if we can get people to attend our worship services so as to show growing numbers (in order to pay for our buildings and staff salaries), log statistics supporting reports of people being baptized and joining our church, and have an assortment of well-attended programs. But what are the objectives given to us in God’s Word? If Christ is the head of the church, what are his marching orders? I believe that the greatest command of our Lord has been misunderstood, misapplied, or simply ignored by most churches in this modern era.
As I talk to pastors they invariably defend their church methodology by saying that the Greek word for disciple is mathaytás, translated into English as learner. They believe they are teaching, therefore they are doing discipleship. The problem is that Jesus never said to do discipleship. He said Make Disciples and to explain more fully what this looks like he said we should be “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…” (Matthew 28:20, NASB). Chuck Colson said “The church is 3,000 miles wide and an inch deep.”2. Why is this so often true? Because we are just doing discipleship and not making disciples. We are teaching for knowledge but doing a poor job in helping people become transformed into a true follower of Jesus Christ.
My new blog web site will be finished by May 15, 2014
1. Barna, George, Growing True Disciples (Colorado Springs: WaterBrook Press, 2001), p. 20.
2. Quoted in Ogden, Greg, Transforming Discipleship (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), p.22