Discipleship is not an optional practice for a Christian. Somewhere in the history of the Church, the idea that the practice of becoming a disciple was only for a few people but was not necessarily for everyone became the dominant idea of the church. This idea has created much damage and has led to the development of what I call “consumers of religious goods and services.” The effectiveness of the church has been compromised and the witnesses of people whose lives have been truly changed have dimmed.
Perhaps you have noticed the narrowing of the gap between what happens in the church and what happens in the world. The gap has narrowed to the point where in many places the church has been completely coopted by culture. I have read much about the frustration that many people have about this. The question that always emerges for me is this: what can we do about it?
Too often our understanding of making a difference in the world is limited to what happens in our building on the weekends. If we experience a good sermon, good music and a happy community, then that is the best we can do. We hold up our weekend experiences and hope that others will hear about it and make a decision to come and see why we like getting together week after week. The problem with this is that it works well enough to make us believe that it actually makes a difference in the world. We need to get beyond this and reclaim the truth of what discipleship is. For if we are going to be used by God, we need to let go of a consumer mentality.
Perry Noble has helped me to see what we need to do if we want to see the Kingdom grow. He once said “we need to stop saying ‘World, discover me,’ and start saying ‘God, develop me’.” True discipleship has always been part of or faith in Jesus Christ. We are called to allow God to develop us to be the kind of people who leave our consumer habits and find ourselves in the world, ablaze in the power of the Holy Spirit. When this happens, our world will change dramatically.