I want you to watch this short video clip and although it's parody, there's some ugly truth here. See if you can relate?
Often, I've attended churches were I felt comfortable and accepted. I liked churches with loud worship and concert lights, powerful sermons and Disney like children's areas. These churches feel comfortable for everyone and you leave feeling like you had a theme park experience. There is nothing wrong with a church like this in and of itself as this is simply a church model or method. But often times there is something missing and it wasn't apparent to me until I grew and matured spiritually.
Over the past year and half, I've had the privilege of starting and leading a Men's Ministry that God built from zero men to almost 100 men with over half of those active on a weekly basis. It's been one of the fastest and most "successful" small group ministries in the history of that church. The funny part is, some of the church leaders didn't want us to start it in the beginning. Now, church leaders are applauding our efforts and asking us what the "secret ingredient" is.
While myself and the other leaders would love to take credit for this ministries success, ultimately God had a hand in it all and we were just His servants. But, from the beginning we didn't want a small group that was a "comfortable social group" for Christians. We wanted to focus on one goal...Life Change Through Discipleship.
How do you get Christians to grow spiritually and bear Fruit of the Spirit?
- Authentic Relationships and Community
- Challenging Them
- Forcing Them To Get Outside Their Spiritual Comfort Zones
- Being Transparent, Vulnerable and Authentic
- Holding Everyone to a Biblical Standard with Accountability
- Prayer, Fasting, Tithing, and Reading Scripture Daily
- Applying God's Word to our Lives and Relationships Daily.
When you read this list, you probably said "Well duh, Lance" But honestly, how many churches or Christians are consistently doing these things on a daily, weekly and monthly basis? The numbers are shockingly low even amongst full time ministry leaders.
Discipleship is not an experience, program or conference. It's not a small group or 10 week study. It's self discipline and accountability on a daily basis.
In reality, many of us would not sign up for this level of challenge, discomfort and accountability. In reality, I've seen people leave churches because they were challenged or held accountable.
Be honest, would you and your friends attend a church if they turned off the A/C, took down the concert lights, and put out metal chairs but preached the Gospel?
Shouldn't the Gospel and Glorifying God be enough for us to attend a church? In other parts of the world, Christianity is thriving from the Gospel alone with no frills.
The Churches main mission should not be to make us comfortable but to:
- Unapologetically Preach the Gospel - Not make it comfortable or acceptable for everyone.
- Glory God Through Worship - Not glorifying the worship band, lights or stage.
- Shepard The Flock Through Discipleship -The bullets above should be the standard among members not the exception.
- Share the Gospel for the Fulfillment of the Great Commission - Not debating or trying to change those who disagree with us.
Sadly, I've been to many multi-million dollar church campuses that despite having these elements in their vision statement and on their website, the execution is not evident?
They've bought into the modern church model that Sunday Service is a theatrical "Production" to persuade people into thinking the modern church is hip, cool and relevant like our culture. The church invests in programs and topical studies hoping people will assimilate some of the teachings but discipleship is not intentional, strategic or at the core of all the churches teachings.
On the contrary, when a Christian walks into a church or group that does focus on discipleship and discipleship is woven into everything in the church, Christians grow more than they ever have before and their lives change forever. Herein lays another problem...
If your whole life all you've only ever had is milk and someone comes along and gives you all the meat you can handle, you never want to go back to only milk.
-Esse Quam Videri-