Look at what Jesus said in Matthew 28:18-19 : Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Definition of Disciple: “follower of person or idea: somebody who believes in and follows the teachings of a leader, a philosophy, or a religion”
Wow! Do I as a Pastor make disciples following the teachings of Jesus or just create loyal attendees on Sunday that believe in Jesus?
This command bothers me. I know how to create events to attract people. Make disciples? Not so sure.
I have been thinking about the difference between disciples and attendees for a long time now. I have a lot to learn. Unfortunately the more I learn the more I have to stop doing what I have already learned.
Here is some of what I have learned so far:
1. Jesus doesn’t have a perfect Church attendance program. I don’t think He cares.
2. Jesus was always running off crowds. If you don’t believe me check out John 6:66 & 67.
3. Attendance and discipleship are not the same. Crowds don’t mean depth. People listening to me teach don’t automatically translate to transformation.
4. Making disciples can only be done in a very small group, preferably one on one. Teaching – impartation of skills – can be done in mass, but transformation can only be done one on one where the teaching is applied to the specific strongholds, thought patterns, etc. of a person.
5. The commandment was to make disciples. Teaching was a part of it, but only as a support to what we were supposed to do in following Him.
6. True disciples are made when we get to know one another without facades. You cannot help people find out who they are without first going through the slow process of getting to know them. A church can entertain or teach a lot of people. They cannot help people find their destiny as a disciple except through one on one encounters.
How does this work out in our modern day church institutions? I don’t really know. But we are commanded to find out.
One place to start is to stop asking how many people come to your church every week. This is in reality a worthless number. I bet you that if I advertised that I was going to have a giraffe and an elephant on stage this week at my church do the tango together that attendance would go up. So what?
Let’s start asking the question, how many disciples do you have at your church?
That’s a question that will get us focused in the right direction.