Does the Church Have a Discipleship Problem?

Posted by David Cay on July 13, 2017 at 8:41 am | Return to Discipleship Pastor's Thoughts page

Quick answer is: yes

I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit and most likely it will become a sermon series where I can articulate and expand my thoughts more holistically. However, I am genuinely worried about the state of discipleship in the church.

I think there is a growing concern- which is great by the way- we need to recognize the problem before we can think of a solution. I’ve recently been reading “Disappearing Church” by Mark Sayers (amazing book!! Buy it!) And I’m convicted with what he wrote in Chapter 5, he writes:

“We can create something that is spectacular and visible, but ultimately fragile. We can attempt to grow quick at the expense of long-term sustainability. We can parasitically live off pre-existing structures, eventually overwhelming them with our critique, with their collapse being our collapse. For just like a huge tree, creative minorities are built upon deep roots

Mark Sayers, Disappearing Church, p. 72

I think Mark is onto something here. I think our discipleship is built more on entertainment than in something stable[1]. I don’t think it’s rooted deep enough that will ensure resilience and sustainability. In my own life, I would guess that the people who became Christians or followed Jesus with me from the very beginning- over half no longer do. I’ve ran into many Christians that can’t even articulate a basic Christian worldview or tell me the whole connecting narrative of the Bible from beginning to end. People may say I’m over exaggerating but I think there is empirical evidence not just from experience but also from research[2]. There are tons of books written lately on this very subject[3]

If we are honest (and I’m in this boat too) I think we have produced more consumers than actual deep rooted disciples in the church. I think we need to ask tough questions and reflect on how we do church. Is it really making disciples? Do the people in our Churches have a Christian worldview? Or is it a mix of many things just with Christian underpinnings? I could go on. But I think it’s worth considering and thinking hard about. For making disciples is what we all were called to do.

  • [1] I don’t think churches purposely do this nor was it their intention but I think it’s the unintended result- people are entertained not necessarily discipled.
  • [2] Please see State of Discipleship: A Barna Report in Partnership with the Navigators
  • [3] You Lost Me by David Kinnaman; Go by Preston Sprinkle; and The Disappearing Church by Mark Sayers
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