Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Measuring Success - Making Disciples

Metric #3: Building Churches vs. Making Disciples

Most of my "professional ministry" was spent learning about the process of building, or planting, churches. There is a lot that goes into launching a new congregation. It is often time-consuming and very expensive. Interestingly, for all our training on how to build churches, the Bible never orders us to build a single church. In fact, Jesus declares that He will build His own church! When we get into the church-building business, we usurp the Messiah's authority and things can get ugly very quickly. We are not meant to build a church, but simply BE the church (ekklesia - "called out ones") that He builds. Furthermore, it wouldn't hurt for us to read the multiple occasions in the Bible in which God explicitly says He will not reside in a house or temple made by human hands. We do people, especially children, a disservice sometimes when we teach that there is a certain way to speak and act in "the house of the Lord." Theologically speaking, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit! WE are the church. The Church is a WHO, not a WHAT. It is our identity as Christ-followers, not something separate from us.

So, if we are not meant to be driven to build or plant churches (which is language still used in the Simple Church, by the way), then do we have another mandate? Yes, we do! The Great Commission tells us that Jesus directs His disciples to "go and make disciples." Making disciples does not necessarily entail planting a church (although it can). Making disciples involves planting Jesus in the lives of others. Another way of looking at this is to think of planting the seeds of the gospel in the different situations that present themselves. Making disciples is usually much more relational and relevant than church planting endeavors, and it is often much messier and more raw, too. Making disciples usually depends much more on God's direction and intervention than church planting, which is sadly often reduced to human planning and man-made strategies.

The question before the simple church in considering this measure, is, "What is a
disciple?" We must wrestle with what it means to be a disciple, and how to reproduce our faith in those around us. One thing to keep in mind with this metric is that while a churchgoer can be a disciple, it should not be assumed that one automatically equates with the other.

What will changing the scorecard with this measure look like in your context?

What are the ramifications for children if the church shifts its focus in this area?


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