As I read and get caught up on what I missed while I was out last week, I see we have some big concerns among our leadership in the SBC.
Our numbers are down. Baptisms are declining. Giving is decreasing.
As a result, we’re blowing a gasket and going off the deep end. Look, I don’t discount that these are things we should be concerned about in a sense, but I do disagree with the method we’re employing to find a solution.
When we put together committees and task forces to study and find solutions to these problems, all we’re doing is continuing down the same path that caused the issues to begin with. We’re looking for new methods and procedures to reach the world. I know the heart of our leadership is in the right place.. I know our desire is to still reach the world with the Gospel, but we’re looking for new ways to do it, when God’s already given us the blueprint. He modeled it for us 2000 years ago, and what we’ve done over the last 100 years is forsake His word. I know that’s a charge that stings, but it’s true. We are not following the method He modeled and then mandated to us. That’s why there are declines in attendance, baptisms and giving..
Let me ask a very pointed question.. Have we decided that His word doesn’t really stand forever? Did He not say “I will build my church?” Have we decided now that it’s no longer His responsibility to build His church, but rather ours?
His word gives us a much different strategy than the one we’re choosing to follow today. I know that’s not something we want to hear or admit, but it’s the truth. When we look at His word and what we’ve been commanded to do, we have taken on God’s job description and expect Him to take on ours. We say “God, we’ll build the church, but you take the time and build the people we bring you.” His word commands the opposite.
I know and I understand how much we want to put evangelism on the pedestal and say that’s the problem. But, it’s not merely lack of evangelism that’s gotten us where we are today.
Let me explain it in a way I think most people will understand. It seems like the majority of social media these days is inundated with some type of MLM product/company. What’s the concept of these companies? They have a product they offer, but their main objective is recruiting people to work with them doing what they do. But they’re not just signing people up and leaving them to figure things out for themselves, are they? No, most of these people go through extensive initial training and continued on-going training, and then they are employed to go out and recruit newcomers to join the company. When they sign people up, they begin the process of training and teaching so that they can send them out to recruit as they have. The cycles continues, level after level after level. That’s the same strategy Jesus used and gave us!!
Go evangelize – go tell the world about Jesus.. Every nation. But DON’T STOP THERE! That’s where we’ve gone astray. That’s why we’re saying we need to find new strategies to teach our people to evangelize. No! We don’t need new strategies. We just need to follow the blueprint He’s already given us.
The Great Commission doesn’t stop after the word Go. It says Go, MAKE DISCIPLES of all nations.. Baptizing them and TEACHING THEM TO OBEY.. Jesus said make disciples not just converts.
An adequately built disciple is naturally an evangelist who will build converts into reproducing disciples.. We tend to focus on addition, when God is a God is multiplication.
What was His charge to Adam and Eve? Be fruitful and MULTIPLY! When we just add converts and don’t build them into mature believers with the mission of multiplying stamped on their heart, we wind up exactly where we are today!
The Bible describes new Christians as babies in Christ. When have you ever seen a baby reproduce? He can’t. It’s impossible. The baby must grow and mature before he can become a reproducer. But what’s the process of maturing look like? Jesus’ model was like this;
He did it
He modeled the process.
He did it and His disciples were with Him
He mentored them.
The disciples did it while He was with them
He monitored them.
The disciples did it on their own
They begin to master the process.
The disciples did it and someone was with them
They multiplied the process.
Paul took Jesus’ words literally and so should we.
2 Timothy 2:2, “Timothy, what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”
Paul –> Timothy –> Faithful men –> Others –> Others –> Others –>
It’s an ongoing, continuous model that the early church took literally. It’s why 12 men charged by our Savior tuned the world upside down. Think about it. 12 men took the strategy Jesus modeled to them and gave them and they followed it. Now, 2,000 years later we’re still here, worshiping Jesus.
We can’t simply expect to fix all that’s wrong with the Church by recruiting convert makers. All that does is give us more of what we already have now. Churches all over the world full of babies. We need to focus on the spiritual weight of our believers by building them into mature, Kingdom minded multipliers.
Let me illustrate. How effective is evangelism compared to the effect of disciple-making ?
How “fast” would an evangelist, making huge additions, and the disciple-maker, using Jesus’ multiplication process each reach the population of the world?
The world population is roughly 7.5 billion people, if you could freeze it there, it would take an evangelist winning 5,000 people/day, which is adding 1,825,000 converts to the church every year over four thousand years to reach the world, provided the population stayed what it is today.
On the other-hand, consider the disciple -maker, who in one year wins one and disciples one to reproductive maturity. At the annual conference that year his report would read – saved and discipled one!
How slow! What an embarrassing report!
After twenty years, the evangelist can report at the annual meeting that over the past 20 years he now has won 36,500,000 people to Christ. The disciple-maker would report after 20 years he now had a total of 1,048,576 disciples. Still a small and apparently slow process compared to the evangelist’s approach.
But, if this process of multiplication of disciples continues at this rate, the results will make your head spin! At the end of the 33rd year, the disciple-maker, starting with just one and spending a whole year equipping his disciple, would have multiplied through them 8,589,934,592! That’s 1 billion more people than are on earth right now! So starting slow may seem unproductive and unimpressive for a number of years – but then the process of multiplication explodes! Why are we in such a hurry to do God’s job for Him? When we start small, start slow, stay steady, and stick to the strategy, He will build His church!
We have got to get back to the blueprint He left. It’s the only one He will honor and bless.. If we do what He’s already told us to do, He will build His church! We won’t need committees and task forces to find new methods and programs to implement, because the one He’s already given us will turn the world upside down like it’s already done once before. All we have to do is trust His word and His promises.