I used to be SO impressed by mega churches…
Don’t get me wrong… a great mega church is still pretty darn impressive. But whereas I used to be impressed by the sheer number of people attending on any given Sunday… and all the glitz and glam and “cool” stuff that takes place in those ridunkulously large ministries, that in itself no longer impresses me. And here’s why:
We have a rack load of converts in the church today… no matter the size… whether mega, medium, or miniscule… and a relative few number of real disciples. Yeah. Let that sink in. Crowds can be pretty impressive… but what’s even more “impressive” is when that crowd becomes radically-committed Christ-followers.
My mom… and I’ve given this a lot of thought over the years, because there have been many who have made significant spiritual deposits into me… has probably had the singularly, biggest spiritual impact on my life. I’ve seen her, countless times, go higher and higher to greater levels of spiritual intimacy, surrender, and power in her own life. No one is perfect… and my mom is not… but she has been consistent. She has modeled what it looks like to have a long walk of obedience in the same direction. And that, essentially, is what discipleship is all about. Anybody can make a ” decision” or a “profession of faith” at a given point in time… but what really matters, what really counts is that that decision blossoms into a life of maturity. We’re so quick to count “decisions”, without helping people to see that the life that Jesus calls us to is costly.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it this way: “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” (from the book, ‘The Cost of Discipleship’)
And Jesus Himself said things like, “If anyone comes to Me [to follow Me] and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26-27).Jesus’ point is clear: Following Me means making Me uppermost in your affections, over and above anyone or anything in this life.
Christianity… a life of discipleship.. is a life of surrender. It is giving up all that we are to gain all that Christ is (see Galatians 2:20). It is not simply being who we are and then tacking on some aspect of Christ-like character, such as love or peace. It is knowing Jesus intimately… first, in the forgiveness of our sins, by accepting His death and sacrifice on the cross on our behalf, as payment for our sins (John 3:16; Romans 3:23-24)… and then both experiencing and expressing His love, joy, peace, and forgiveness to others. It is not relegated to a point in time, as if it were a particular event… it is a choice to follow Christ, over all others and over everything… to pursue Him daily, and lead others to do the same.
This is what the Church is missing! Simply gathering a crowd does not produce this kind of radical living… but just a handful or two of radically-committed, fully-devoted followers can turn our society upside. It’s already happened before! (The entire Book of Acts)
We can do it again. In fact, until Christ returns, that is what we’re called to do… to make disciples of all nations. There is too much going on in our world for us to not take Jesus’ mandate seriously. People need the Lord. We have Him. Let’s share Him with others… let’s make Him known!