Five Components to Discipleship

Why is the church failing at disciple-making this side of the globe?

I did not grow up in church, but at 24 years old, I found Jesus Christ. Jesus is the truth and was the truth for me. He became my focus, and as I read my Bible, I did what it said to do. Over time, I started to go to church and began to follow – out of total ignorance – the model that said I had to be part of this program and that program if I wanted to grow. Over time, I started to see the results fade. The church “attend this program” model failed me.

Jesus told us to make disciples of “all nations,” which means making disciples of all ethnic groups, by understanding the cultures, living in a culture, and bringing people in that culture to Jesus. However, as I was from my culture, over time, I started to listen to preachers who, over time, talk about their culture, and slowly, I became one of them. I began to realize that I did not want to be in their culture bubble, but instead, I want to reach the culture I was called out of. That is our calling. After a few years of accumulating into church games and meetings and useless inner culture voting, I realized I wanted nothing to do with that new culture. I loved Jesus, I loved His Word, I loved what He called me to do, but I did not like this church culture I was in with rules and regulations. Over time it hit me. God does not want me to be in this. He has not called to become this, but instead has called me to become like Him. God wants me to make Jesus incarnational in my culture.

Christianity has always spread as a seed. It usually covers under persecution. It still grows, but it just grows differently in different cultures, just as different soils make the food taste different, the soil we grow in creates different Christians. This brings me to the question.

Has the American church failed at making Jesus known incarnationally in culture? After thinking through my personal process, here are some things we, the American believers, need to consider as we think through the answer.
1. We have the wrong attraction: “Come to our church building.” I have learned this. The church is the people, not a building. We don’t go to church; we are the church.

2. We have the wrong focus. The church says we must learn the truth with education and classes, instead of learning the Person Jesus Christ, who is the truth and the way for the entire world. The answer is living out the incarnational Lord among our people, not attend classes and get educational degrees.

3. We have adopted imperialism and colonialism thinking in the church. All Christians should have our American culture (western), and we come in and say you must do this, or it is not the church. It even gets worse because it goes deeper into the churches themselves, we have to do church this way based on patterns. Two factors make Christianity different. First, we have a living, raised, resurrected Christ who is active and moving. Second, Christianity is based on truth, and that truth is in a person not in a religious format. Christianity is unique because it is the only religion where reality is a Person, not a program. Jesus is incarnational.

Ok, so what must change? Get back to the basics of what Jesus said to do, adopt the components of the Great Commission, and live it out where we eat, work, shop, and play.

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20, NLT).

The components of the Great Commission are as follows:

1. Adopt the missional component – go.

2. Adopt the directional component – make disciples (followers).

3. Adopt the influential component – influence all cultures with Christ.

4. Adopt the salvation component – all people can have a relationship with Jesus.

5. Adopt the relational component – God has planned our salvation relationship in an assembly (church) with other believers and where all believers will together worship, learn, serve, and fellowship.
This is what works. We were made to reproduce and multiply. We are called to make disciples, and when you put the two together, you have a reproducing and multiplying believer. When these people get together, you begin to see not organizations but organisms reproducing and expanding the kingdom of God. You see, church planting is a result of disciple-making, and once we plant a church, it must purpose to plant another church. We must plant reproducing churches and make disciples.
This goes back to the original question. Is the church in America failing? The answer sits with everyone who calls themselves a Christian. Are they making disciples that result in reproducing churches? Time will tell, Let’s not give up, but let’s stand up and speak out unashamed.

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