The North American church appears to be suffering from a great lack of discipleship. It is still a greatly misunderstood and under-utilized Biblical principle. Why?
I am sure it comes from the mindset that accompanies a typical pastorate. The man paid to marry, bury, preach, and pray does all the work. Burnout happens. People starve spiritually because they do not feed themselves, neither do they know how. They cannot teach the next generation, and the pastor has no time to do so. So what is the solution?
First, believers need to understand that the work is not to be done by one man or elite group of men. The Lord put men in the church "to equip the saints for the work of ministry" (Eph 4:12). That means that the saints do the work, not the pastorate.
Second, there is a direct command that each "be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim 1b-2).
Mind you, I am not blasting a particular type of church governance. There are churches that practice a plurality of elders as oversight to the local church that abandon discipleship for different reasons. In that case the elders have lost sight of Biblical multiplication/growth.
And lastly, there are husbands and fathers who are so arrogant as to believe they do not need discipling. While it is true that the Holy Spirit will teach us as we are in the Word of God, that never occurs in a vacuum. Without proper guidance from a mature believer, error creeps in.
The question remains: Will I do my part? Will I be a discipler of others or be discipled or some of both? As a follower of Christ, these are the only alternatives.
Monday, January 5, 2009
If you enjoy biographies, read this work about Andrew Jackson. It tells of his years attempting to gain and finally ascending to the presidency. This was my first real look at our seventh president, and I was pleased by some things I found—memorizing the shorter Westminster Catechism and faithfully reading three chapters of the Bible each day. Jackson never fully trusted in the God he knew through the Scriptures until after leaving office. Who knows how events may have turned out if he had. What struck me most about his religious life occurred close to his death when he related the following as he lay dying:
When I have suffered sufficiently, the Lord will then take me to himself, but what are all my sufferings compared to those of the blessed Savior, who died upon the crossed tree for me. Mine are nothing—not a murmur was ever heard from him—all was borne with amazing fortitude.