by Tom Planck: The narrative that is unfolding in the Church today is not a good read. There are 355,000 plus churches in the United States and better than 80% of them are either in plateau or decline1. These churches are not only declining numerically, but they are also seeing a decrease in influence and impact in their community.
There is only one hope for the Church today. It is for a remnant of Christ-followers to re-engage with the mission of Jesus to make disciples who make disciples. The Church today greatly needs disciples of Jesus who help an individual walk toward and across the line of faith and then help them become a disciple who does the same for another.
This was and is Jesus’ Plan A for reaching the world and there is no Plan B.
Do you have a handful of people in your life that are far from God that you are intentionally helping walk toward a relationship with Jesus? Do you have a few Christ-followers that you are intentionally helping live with the attitude and posture of Jesus? Are you helping those disciples of Jesus intentionally repeat the process for others?
If you are still reading this blog entry and are a follower of Jesus then the answer to these questions should be a clear yes!
If you cannot answer these questions with the names of real people in your life that you are pouring into then let me challenge you to integrate a few principles into your life sooner rather than later.
1. Renew your commitment to be an obedient follower of Jesus.
Jesus’ words in John 14:15 are simple and profound:
“If you love me, keep my commands.” John 14:15
If you love Jesus, you will live His commands.
This is NOT:
a rule to follow.
jumping through a set of religious hoops.
behavior management or simply adhering to a set of tacit religious behaviors.
about being a good churchgoer.
This IS about:
being in a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus.
having the attitude of Jesus.
having the posture of Jesus.
intentionally living the way Jesus did.
Being Jesus’ disciple is not merely gaining knowledge about Him, but integrating and living what we are learning about following the way of Jesus. He isn’t asking for perfection, but He is clear that His followers live a life patterned after His.
Where do you need to be more obedient to Jesus?
2. Re-engage in fishing for Jesus.
The call on the life of a follower to help people find their way back to God is made clear multiple times and in multiple places in the New Testament. Jesus said it this way in Matthew’s account:
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Matthew 4:19
My heart grieves over how few people who occupy a spot in a church pew on a weekly basis or serve on the staff of a local church have never helped someone walk to and across the line of faith. I am confident God’s heart breaks for the few numbers of Christians today that have helped someone find their way back to the Father. Know this, there are people in your life right now who God has strategically placed there so you can help them find their way back to God. Will you partner with Him? I hope so!
Walk across the room. Extend a hand. Build a friendship. Throw a party. Go to lunch. Invite them into your golf foursome. Get intentionally connected to those who are disconnected and see what God might do!
Take a moment right now to develop a short list of disconnected people that you will invest in and help walk toward a relationship with Jesus.
3. Refocus your time to be a disciple-maker for Jesus.
When the first followers of Jesus were given the challenge and strategy of making disciples who make disciples of all nations, this was not a foreign concept. They had lived it. It was key to their spiritual formation as His followers.
When Jesus began His public ministry, He called twelve to follow Him. He encouraged the masses but poured His life into a few. He made an even more intentional investment in three: Peter, James, and John. They had some unique experiences with Jesus that the other nine didn’t have. Jesus was preparing them for future leadership in the church. We see this clearly in the person of Peter who would become the foremost voice for spreading of the Gospel in the early days of the birth of the Church.
We also see this lived out in the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul. We see it most clearly in his discipling of young Timothy. Notice how Paul describes that in his second letter to Timothy:
“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”2 Timothy 2:2
I love this verse because we see four generations of reproduction!
So the question to wrestle with is this: Who has God placed in your life that you can help become an obedient follower of Jesus who is fishing for people? How can you invest in them to ensure that the process gets repeated to multiple generations of reproduction?
Do not hesitate. Make the necessary changes. And, go make disciples!
Here are a few suggested resources to help you build some intentional next steps.
Read “The Art of Neighboring” by Dave Runyon
Hire a discipleship coach with Gravity Leadership
Note 1. Statistics adapted from “The Great Opportunity.” We highly recommend you download “The Great Opportunity” report.
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Source: Disciples Who Make Disciples