Summary: Disciples aren’t born they’re made.
Intro: It’s summer time, and for many that means it’s family vacation time. Have you ever had a bad experience on a vacation? If you’ve been on many vacations then you know what I’m talking about. Things don’t always go as planned, people and weather doesn’t always cooperate. Sometimes the packing, traveling, and expenses aren’t worth the experience. So do we avoid vacations altogether? Never go on another? Do we just say I’ll pay someone else do all the packing, traveling, see all the sights, experience all the pains and enjoyment? Then when they return I’ll just listen to their experience.
Sometimes we do the same thing with pastors. We realize that we need to spend time with God praying, reading our Bible, and listening. But it’s much easier to let someone else who has more experience and is better at it than us just give us what they have. Besides isn’t’ that what we pay the pastor for anyway? God doesn’t want you just to settle for living through another person’s experience. He wants you to experience first hand the pains and joys of intimacy with Him.
Illustration: In a chapter about rethinking discipleship James Emery White states:
Some of you may remember comedian Yakov Smirnoff. He said when he first came to the United States from Russia; he wasn’t prepared for the incredible variety of instant products available in American grocery stores. He says, "On my first shopping trip, I saw powdered milk--you just add water, and you get milk. Then I saw powdered orange juice--you just add water, and you get orange juice. And then I saw baby powder, and I thought to my self, what a country!"
One of the most basic assumptions made about life change is that it happens instantly at salvation. According to this belief, when someone gives his or her life to Christ, there is an immediate, substantive, in-depth, miraculous change in habits, attitudes, and character. As a result disciples are born not made.
. . .The question for rethinking discipleship is this: Are these assumptions valid? If they are, then working this formula in the life of the church should consistently give the same result: new communities of people who are becoming increasingly like Jesus in their life and thought. If that is not the answer a church gets when it works the equation, then it needs to rethink whether the formula is sound.
Unfortunately, many churches are not getting the correct answer. In fact, a Search Institute study has found that only 11 percent of churchgoing teenagers have a well-developed faith, rising to only 32 percent for churchgoing adults. Why? Because true life change only begins at salvation, takes more than just time, is about training not trying, and is a team effort.
James Emery White, Rethinking the Church, Baker, 1997, p. 55-57
1 Tim 4:7-8
7Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.