Someone has challenged me that they don’t think churches are making disciples anymore. In fact, they don’t think most people calling themselves Christians are really followers of Jesus. They believe there are a lot of deceived people inhabiting churches feeling secure and comfortable without reason.
Real disciples, they say, are making new disciples. They are sharing their life story with others around them; they are studying the word of God as daily soul food; they are praying actively for others by name to be saved; they are engaged in meeting the needs of others around them; they are generous and hospitable and active in using their gifts for the building up of the body of Christ.
Do you know anyone like this? Is this the role of every believer individually or is the role of the church collectively?
Regardless of your response, how are you involved in helping to make disciple makers who make disciple makers? We’re not talking about people who you lead to say a prayer and then live their lives without real transformation. How do you make disciples whose lives start becoming more like Jesus and then share that transformation so others are transformed?
I’m told young adults are leaving the institutional church in droves because the older generations aren’t investing in their spiritual care and development – in other words, they aren’t being discipled.
Is my friend right in saying we don’t make disciples anymore? What can we do about it?
We live in a world of stories. We love to hear stories and tell stories. Our stories
fill out our sense of identity, purpose, need and hope. My son Richard was home
from Rwanda a month ago and he and his sisters and I were sitting around our
living room sharing stories. It got a little weepy at one point. My young
granddaughter Kylie stopped at the door for a moment, left and returned with an
armload of stuffed sheep. She quietly went to each person and dropped a sheep
into their arms then she left. We all hugged our sheep and kept telling stories but
that sensitive act of Kylie is a story worth telling.
The Christmas story is a story of God stepping into our weepy human story with
a lamb and weaving our story into his bigger story. The challenge for most
people is that there are so many different versions of Christmas stories that it
can be confusing. Getting the right story is important because that story will
define our sense of identity, purpose, need and hope.
The main Christmas story most of our children hear is that they are at the center
of the story. By being good and doing good they can get what they want. If they
get what they want they will be happier, with-it, smarter, comfortable, loved. All
their hopes and dreams will be satisfied.
Christmas in the first story is about what we give and what we get. When we get
older it’s about dressing up and getting out, eating, putting a smile on our face
and staying busy shopping – but it’s still about giving and getting. There’s a
popular commercial that boldly says “I want that.” That’s the first story.
The alternate Christmas story of the Bible is the one we quickly refer to at this
time of year and then put back on the shelf until next year. In this story God is at
the center and it is all about him – his love, his gift, his action, his sacrifice. The
story is plain and simple, nothing to attract Hollywood to make a film about it.
It’s about a sin-broken world wrestling with overwhelming issues, people making
self-destructive choices, desperate for a Saviour, hoping against hope to make it
through another day. It’s about the Creator stepping off his throne as our king
and being humiliated to becoming a baby in a refugee family. When we grow up
with this story we realize that the tag line changes from “I want that” to “He
Why is the right Christmas story so important when it comes to our identity,
purpose, need and hope?
Perhaps during 2018 we can focus more intentionally on exposing our hearts to
the right story.
Happy New Year. A question to start us off. Is there a parallel between the physical and spiritual climates in our country? A few days ago the warmest place in Canada at 3 degrees celsius was still colder than many other countries have ever experienced. For example, Taiwan, Indonesia, Cuba, the Philippines and Jamaica have never been that cold – ever.
Does our weather drive us indoors and inside ourselves? It often impacts attendance at Sunday services. What motivates us to snuggle back in for more rest, choose alternate activities, or head out to connect again with the body of Christ? Has the coolness outside impacted us inside?
Faith’s mission is to make disciples of all nations – all generations in all nations. The influx of nations into our church has kept it vibrant, active, loving and inviting. However, we live in a time and place where surveys show that the love of many toward Christ and his church has grown cold.
My question? Is it the weather or something else.
Today’s rising generation in our church needs the courage of Daniel and the daring of David to
embrace a faith that is rapidly falling out of favor with their peers. It’s no longer uncommon for
even church goers to go for weeks or months without considering what the Bible has to say
toward the situations and relationships they are dealing with.
Many millenials state openly they no longer believe that any of the religious texts which have
been guides to other generations and other nations have any value or relevance for today. None
of them are better than another.
Churches have tried to spin out more apps and digital resources, podcasts and YouTube
presentations, blogs, websites, Facebook and twitter posts, Instagram, Snapchat and other social
media in an effort to entice the next generation toward the faith. Even all this has limited
And yet, these rising generations which are sloughing off the practices, traditions and even
beliefs of established institutional churches, have a deep curiosity about what is authentic,
meaningful and transformative.
The big thing they desire is to belong in the story we embrace. They don’t just want to hear it.
They want to live it. That’s all about relationship across generations and across nations. They
want to be welcomed, listened to, shared with, appreciated. They want to engage in hospitality
around tables and circles where they can experience belonging.
There’s been enough modeling of what doesn’t work and what doesn’t change our world. This
new generation is looking for something that speaks to their heart, their hands and their hopes.
They need space and opportunity to wrestle with the declarations, demands and diverse teaching
Our church’s established members need daring faith to encourage those who are embracing
the truths we have held closely for so long. I’m encouraged to see how these next opportunities
will show themselves in our community and in our city.
In the first message after Jesus’ triumphant death, resurrection, ascension and birth of the church,
Peter quotes Joel’s hopeful declaration: “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons
and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream
dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days
and they will prophesy.”
Together, across generations, we have a daring faith to embrace, live out and share. If the rising
generations are going to find their place in God’s story then those of us who have walked it for a
while need to constantly welcome them into the journey.