Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Discipleship is more about "being" than showing up

Colossians 4:2-6 (NRSV)

"Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison, so that I may reveal it clearly, as I should."

Well that was unusual... I skipped yesterday's blog post. That means only 33 entries in the first 40 days of 2010 - I must be slipping!

I did get my devotional reading and meditation time in, but then I needed to wrap up a new magazine article and after that the day just took off and got away from me!

But it was all good: Rebekah called mid-morning and asked if I'd be willing to pick her up for an early lunch and join her on an afternoon visit. She'd been invited to a last-minute consulting conference with a church in another city and wanted me along to chime in some when she talked with the pastor about small-group ministry.

It turned out to be a much deeper visit than it looked on the surface going in. We spent two hours talking with just the pastor, and it was time well spent. Rebekah and I left feeling as if we'd been able to both encourage and inspire him in terms of the direction of his church - pivotal in that community - over the next five years.

It's been interesting, looking back over the past year, to see how often visits to churches for (ostensibly) other reasons have turned into a lot of listening (primarily listening to pastors). Encouraging ... sharing ideas ... prayer ... and the hope-infused promise of transformational initiatives. Rebekah and I honestly believe that every single church is loaded with potential, and that God has exciting plans if only the body of Christ is willing to morph from the church membership model into a culture defined by purposeful discipleship.

When a church culture is built around the idea of discipleship, the numbers take care of themselves. Not that - all of a sudden - membership burgeons and attendance goes through the roof ... but that the weekly head-count is less important than responding to the call to follow Jesus with passion and via a daily walk with God.

Discipleship is more about "being" than showing up. Consequently, life-styles and priorities tend to shift to line up with a daily walk with Jesus. Then, it's only natural to attend worship, be involved in a small group, get involved with hands-on mission, participate in Bible-study and invite other people to be a part of your vital faith-community as well.

At the same time, the pressure is off the "organization" to "generate" numbers. In fact, the metrics that are traditionally used to measure church "success" (membership, attendance, Sunday-school enrollment, annual budget, ratio of attendance to membership...) begin to mean less as soon as they - inevitably - begin to improve.

So yesterday was a serendipity. Kingdom work. Deeply satisfying. Timeless.

God is good - DEREK

No comments: