Summary: The Great Commission and the Great Commandment clearly outline the requirement, the evidence The fruitfulness and the cost of discipleship Yet, the recent pandemics of Covid-19, racial tensions, police brutality, food insecurity and countless other ills exposed the shallowness
The Great Commission and the Great Commandment, along with much of His teaching, Jesus the Christ clearly outlines the requirement of discipleship John8:31, the evidence of discipleship John 13:35; The fruitfulness of discipleship John 15:8 and the cost of discipleship Luke 14:27, 33. Yet, the recent pandemics of Covid-19, racial tensions, police brutality, food insecurity and countless other ills exposed the shallowness of the church’s commitment and effectiveness in disciple making. Somehow, some church goers felt free to storm the White House violently waving Jesus Saves banners. It caused me to ask the question, when it comes to disciple making, how is the North American Church doing?
A recent Barna poll, revealed that within the African American church, many still have a high regard for the authority of Scripture and feel that their relationship with God influences much of their daily lives.
When it comes to disciple making, how is the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church doing? As the church has been scattered for nearly one year, unable to meet in the church building, much of our membership seems bewildered, not knowing how or lacking the resolve to share their faith with other. Others have been reluctant to embrace media ministry, so maintaining their personal growth is a challenge for many. Non-discipleship seems to the elephant in the room
Near the beginning each year, Discipleship.org publishes an article covering the top disciple making trends they see currently happening, based upon the learnings of their team and the thirty plus organizations that work with them. A year ago, just before COVID-19 took center stage, Discipleship.org and Exponential.org published the results of a massive study on the state of disciple making in the American Church. “That study showed that disciple making was trapped in a sort of tower of Babel, where “disciple,” “discipleship,” and “disciple making” meant everything and anything and nothing to pastors—and less than 5% of churches nationally were focused on reproducing disciples in a meaningful way. Puzzlement, bewilderment, and perplexity reigned in churches.”
The study revealed the difficulty the church was experiencing before COVID-19. The social maladies of today have exposed our need to revisit discipleship and our disciple making process. Since then, we have seen massive calls for discipleship and disciple making. Everyone now seems to realize that Sunday mornings, whether attended in person or online, are simply not enough. God’s people are starving for guidance, for relationships … and for substance. People need more than information and entertainment. They need vital relationships that can assist them in becoming Christlike in Community. Those meaningful connection have the power to transform lives. John 13:35, By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. Since much of our in-person ministry has been disrupted, we need to lead our ministry towards a new commitment to Christian discipleship that transforms lives.
So, what do I suggest should our focus moving forward? This year, I urge every disciple, disciple makers, and church leaders to adopt and implement practices that have changed their lives, personally. We can only lead where we have been. Based upon everything I have learned and the needs I see, in this article, I am taking a prescriptive posture this time rather than a descriptive one. I know by now; most leaders have recognized weakness in their congregation and the need for change. You might call this a list of exhortations going into this year. These things are important whether we are able to return to in-person worship or not.
1. Make It Clear! The class leader system is the disciple making ministry of our church. Some class leaders are unclear and unaware of the vital importance of their ministry. We need clarity about disciple making today. Two areas in particular that scream for clarification: definition and mission. What does it mean and where are we going? Clarify your definitions. Provide precise definitions for the key words you use like “disciple,” “discipleship,” “disciple making,” “church,” and “disciple making movement.” Until you are clear on the definitions of what you seek to create and how you will go about creating them, you will lack effectiveness. Visit our website see our recommendation and definitions (www.ameziondvelopment.org).
Make disciple making the core mission of our churches. If you make disciple making just one of the activities your local church does, you will not be very effective at that mission. Make disciple making the core mission of your church, as the New Testament shows us. Jesus modeled the disciple making process as he led his disciples, taught them, watched them, trained them, and sent them out two by two. Then Jesus listened to their report and corrected them. Disciple making is a time-consuming process and the core mission of the church. Until church leaders start evaluating everything, they do through the lens of how it helps or detracts from disciple making as their core mission, they are destined for ineffectiveness.