We are all guilty of it. Every single one of us that follow Jesus Christ as His disciple asks the bizarre and awkward question, “How is church going?” Or how about this one, “Did you enjoy church yesterday?”
I love to worship with my Bridgeway family on Sundays. Even when I am not speaking, I love being there; seeing people who call this place home and worshipping together. To be honest, I can’t imagine my life without it. Yet, over the last few years, I have started to ask myself some very hard questions.
1. Why have I typically considered church a service that I go to on Sunday mornings?
2. Why have I never taken the command to make disciples, seriously like Jesus talked about in Matthew 28?
The highest goals I have in life are simply to follow Jesus, to build deep friendship with Him, the Father, and Holy Spirit, and to do whatever they ask of me. I am well aware that this life is very short and we are all like the mist that James talks about. While I am traveling through this big, beautiful planet on my way home, I want to do exactly what God wants me to do. I had a major epiphany three years ago when I realized that Jesus called me to make disciples and not “lead an organization.”
I went to seminary and learned a lot of valuable things. The one thing I did not learn was how to make disciples. I just read Bill O’Reilly’s book, “Killing Jesus” and found it fascinating. Within a few hundred years directly following the resurrection of Jesus; a small, seemingly harmless and innocent little fringe group known as “Christians” completely overtook Rome with the message of Jesus. That fascinates me.
I can’t remember a time in my life when I was not passionate about Jesus. I’ve always wanted to “change the world.” Most everybody I know wants to do that. Yet I am finding that few people actually have a plan to change it.
If I lead a successful church by growing in numbers, staying pure in my character, leading people to Jesus and helping others grow in their faith then that is very noble and honorable. Yet, even in this endeavor, I can be successful and never do what Jesus called me to do.
Jesus called me to make disciples. He did not call me to be a successful leader of an organization.
The church at large is at a major crossroads. We live in the land of the “celebrity pastors.” One can even be a “celebrity pastor” in a church of 50 people. We put most of the pressure of following God on a man and we will sit and glean from what that pastor is learning with God. We do the same thing with itinerant ministers as well. It’s a fascinating phenomenon that is happening in the church in the West. We celebrate the leaders of large churches and try to implement the things they do with the team they lead. And yet, when we look at many of these organizations, we don’t find the mandate of Matthew 28 playing out much.
There is a tremendous difference in leading an organization and making disciples.
In order to make disciples I have to alter my life quite a bit. I have to invite people into my family’s natural rhythm of life and give away what Wendy and I have found in following Jesus. It is much easier to preach than it is to make disciples. Maybe that is why so few ministers actually do it.
For my family, we have made the decision that we are going to give the rest of our lives to this. We want to make disciples that then go and do the same. I’ve always wanted my life to “outlive” my life. I want to be in heaven and celebrate what God is still doing through what I gave my life to. If I invest in someone, then I have a chance to change the world. It’s what Jesus did. Rome was overtaken by families in Christ multiplying. Healthy things always grow. Jesus gave His life to a few and His return on His investment seems to be working. I don’t want to re-invent the wheel. I simply want to do what Jesus did.
I see so many people who sit in a seat on Sunday mornings and listen to a sermon and call that “church.” Surely there has to be more. Matthew 28 does not apply to paid ministers. I think it applies to all of us. At this point, I don’t care about shiny buildings and fancy web pages that mark the ministry I am leading. I want to raise fathers and mothers who go and do the same. We’ve already started and I’m not turning back. This is a message directed right at myself more than anyone. I feel like Joshua when he drew that line in the sand and said, “As for me and my family…” I’d rather be obedient than successful any day. Come, Lord Jesus.