Pretend you are the coach of an NFL team. Players come to camp before the season and get a playbook. Each person is supposed to learn all the plays. Each one has specific assignments for each play.
- What would happen if 90% never learned the playbook?
- What if they didn’t know the playbook by the 4th game of the season?
- It would look like this: 0-4.
- 0 wins/4 losses.
So many Christians wonder why their church continues to decline. The answer is not simple or more churches would have figured it out a long time ago. Actually, there are several issues and they often differ from one church to another, in some respect. Most churches can’t figure it out without help from the outside. They can’t see the forest for the trees. They are too close to their own issues.
One of the chronic playbook issues is the most basic:
- Jesus modeled making disciples.
- Jesus commanded His followers to make disciples.
- Jesus gave the Great Commission: “To make disciples.”
- Most churches, and most denominations have a purpose statement. They quote Matthew 28:19-20, “Go make disciples of all nations (people groups/or groups of ethnics), baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teaching them everything I have commanded you.”
Here’s the playbook challenge:
- Almost no one in most churches knows or does it: make disciples!
Before you get defensive, let’s look at what many Christians do well:
That’s a part of the playbook, but isn’t what will win the world to Christ – and this is no game. This is eternal life and death on the line. What are the issues?
In our work with churches, there are actually two issues:
- The Great Commission says, “go.”
- Most churches practice inviting people to come to the church.
- Jesus’ commission is not about bringing people to the church. it’s about taking the church to people.
- It’s not about attracting people to an institution.
- It’s about relationally reaching people where they are.
- The second, and most important, most challenging issue seems more difficult. Jesus modeled discipling. So did the apostles.
- Most Christians, including most pastors, don’t know how to disciple. They don’t know the playbook!
- There are six steps. They are relational, personal, and take a good deal of time.
- There is a reason the Great Commission goal uses the strange word “make” disciples.
- The six steps:
- Come follow me. (“Would you come and hang out with me for a while?”)
- I do/you watch – Just observe what I have come to know, how I live.
- I do/you help – Put a toe in the water. Try living this faith with me.
- You do/I help – When you’re ready, get involved, but I’m here to help you.
- You do/I watch – I observe and may guide and direct only if it’s necessary as you live in this new way of life.
- We both do this again: pray for, look for, until we find someone we can invite to come along side as “we go” and make another disciple.
Discipling is more like raising a child than teaching a class.
You can’t disciple a crowd.
Preaching doesn’t disciple. It teaches and equips people who have already become young disciples. You don’t feed a three-month-old child steak and potatoes.