Does the Church Have a Discipleship Problem?
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. 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. There are tons of books written lately on this very subject
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.
-  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.
-  Please see State of Discipleship: A Barna Report in Partnership with the Navigators
-  You Lost Me by David Kinnaman; Go by Preston Sprinkle; and The Disappearing Church by Mark Sayers