There are 5 books out now that are causing a little stir in the States. Each points out an area of need in the way we make disciples.
Megashift by James Rutz, 2005
– has a chapter on documented miracles that is exciting. Jim’s passion is the house church movement and he sees it playing a large role in defining the nature of the local church coupled with a leadership style that encourages involvement.
by George Barna, 2005 – makes the case for ministry outside the context of a local church. He refutes the idea that all ministry must flow from a local church. And, as you might expect, local church advocates are refuting George.
Why Men Hate Going to Church
by David Murrow, 2005 – deals with the feminization of the church and why about 10 million fewer men than women attend church.
Wild at Heart & Waking the Dead
by John Eldredge, 2001, 2003 – targets men and deals with getting in touch with your own heart’s desires in order to fulfill your calling and experience the life of Christ; a natural consequence of being made in the image of God.
Each of these books points out significant issues in the way we make disciples. Many view them as criticizing the church and offering unbiblical alternatives. I cite them because the issues they raise are very real, however I admit the solutions offered aren’t nearly as articulate or satisfying. I believe the Lord is very capable of building His Church. It’s one of many very clear commitments Jesus made; the spotless bride of Eph 5:27.
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matt 16:18-19 NIV
We Americans are prone to measure our success in terms of marketing terminology and the result is that we periodically rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic instead of fixing the leak or staying out the icebergs in the first place. I want to offer a simple solution to taking the next step toward a church-growing, megashifting, revolution, that will wake the dead. Ready? If you haven’t read Releasing Kings, now is the time.
#1. Don’t throw the baby out
– Our local community, like most, has some great churches that help people connect with the Lord. The first goals of discipleship are:
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38 NIV
The traditional values of surrendering your life to Christ, learning submission, service, being part of church body, worship, exercising spiritual gifts (such as healing and prophecy), and learning something about your ministry gifts are essential. Most churches do a pretty good job of helping people down that road. The worship is fun, the fellowship is fun, and seeing people saved and families healed is even more fun. We could argue about where the church meets, how it’s structured, or what’s its emphasis ought to be. My attitude is that there is room for different expressions and it’s healthy to accomplish the same things in as many different ways as possible. We need to help pastors not just critique them.
#2. Graduate somebody
– There is an undercurrent in the heart of God’s people that all five books touch in a prophetic way. There has to be more. Our current version of discipleship is a perpetual motion machine that is never complete. What happens to people that experience everything our local church has to offer? How long does that take? Do they get a life sentence in Sunday school for being faithful? No wonder those 10 million men quit.
All five books are amazingly silent about how people make a living and what they do with their 40 most productive hours. God is stirring His people to connect their ministry, their work, the dreams and desires of their heart, and the will of God. What’s going away is the idea that you can divorce your ministry (an hour in church) from your vocation (40-50 hours in the workplace). There is no such thing as a secular job. Our use of “tent making” suggests Paul barely tolerated that 40 hours to get enough money to redeem the weekends. Can you see the flaw? Should we assume Jesus hated being a carpenter and that it was a wasted portion of his life?
Life (the goal of discipleship)
– Men and women find their ministry expression in their marketplace vocation and take the presence and the power of God with them. Their deepest heart’s desires find expression in their entrepreneurial pursuit. They come alive. In fact, “life” starts when we start doing the things God created us to do. Get it?… Entrepreneurial expression leads to prosperity, which leads to life. Our cup overflows and ministry is the result (helping others through the same process). That 40 hour ministry is the one that will expand the Kingdom and reach the world. Can you see that it’s spiritual to be entrepreneurial? He’s the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (all businessmen).
The Church is there to help them disciple the second generation of people they touch in the marketplace… to graduate more disciples.
Connect the dots
– We’re all amateur theologians that don’t always connect the dots between what we believe and what we do. For example:
Once you start believing in 5-fold ministry you’ll start believing in a victorious Church and your rapture theology will crumble and you’ll stop waiting for everything to get worse.
Once you you realize the future is not entirely predestined and entertain the open view of God, you’ll realize He is partnering with the initiative of men and women to accomplish His will… your view of hierarchy will switch from mandatory submission to achieve accountability to voluntary mentoring to achieve life.
Once you allow yourself to be a spiritual entrepreneur, a door to prosperity will open and you’ll find yourself in full-time ministry – in the marketplace. You’ll also find yourself on an exciting adventure.
Instead of dismantling the church, let’s queue up some graduates and let them expand the Kingdom; starting in our own cities and going all over the world. Pastors aren’t afraid of graduating Kingly people into marketplace ministry (I’m not implying they necessarily leave the church). Want to know what pastor’s are really afraid of? Preaching to the same crowd decade after decade with no results. Pastors are good people; they want what God wants too.
We’ve interviewed some great examples of Christian entrepreneurs that have already heard the call. http://www.releasing-kings.com/Interviewing-Kings.html
Life is an adventure. People are a blessing. God is amazing. We’re winning.