We have been looking at the way we build churches and the way Jesus builds His Church. There is a vast difference. If need be – go back to previous editions of Churchquake and have a look at what we have been discussing together these last few weeks. Today, let’s take a look at the traditional way we have almost always worked – seeing the lost saved and beginning a church with them.
This model is an “attractional” model (see “Traditional Ministry Flow” chart below) where we are attempting to attract people to the church we are beginning. You notice that it reflects a process where evangelism efforts, or outreach, are considered to be the first steps. In this step a person can cross the line of faith and be born again or can simply begin to ask questions and be seeking to know more about the Lord Jesus. The second step is actually inviting them to church and getting them to a church service. Here they become a part of the functioning local church and, if not already saved, they will continue to build relationships and be impacted by the faith and hopefully become born again. It is at this point that discipleship begins – just after conversion.
In other word, we perceive discipleship as something you do after someone has come to Christ and is brought into the church. Because of this, we tend to do discipleship from within the church context and generally only with people who have come to us and only after they have been born again. Teaching is also reserved for people who have come into the church. Then, after conversion, they join the life of the local church and become part of the church programs and hopefully the small groups. This we then see as discipling people.
This model, I believe lowers the bar of expectations when it comes to discipleship and means only a few of the really energetic and seriously passionate “radicals” or “fanatics” ever seek to be discipled. Small group membership is always only a fraction of the overall number who attend on Sundays. And programs attract people but really do little to adequately disciple them. In fact, both of these events often simply continue the “teaching process” that happens Sunday by Sunday. It simply is not working as general programming and small group ministry often does not adequately disciple anyone. It simply supplies more information and fellowship and not spiritual formation. It results in a cognitive buy-in, a change in belief systems, and church attendance but not in life change and commitment to the mandate given to the Church – the Great Commission.
I believe the way the Lord would have us build His Church begins the “discipleship process” much sooner and actually sees the beginning of the formal “Church service” or public expression of the life of the new church much later. I believe we are to engage the culture and while doing so – begin discipling and teaching people scriptural truths as they learn more about the faith before receiving Christ. I believe we, as believers, invite them into our lives to share life with us and see how we live our Christian faith out in our every day work world, family times, and recreation times. We begin teaching and sharing with them as we “form community” involving them in the life of this community long before actually publically beginning a Sunday assembly.
This “Missional Flow” (I would call it an “Apostolic Model”) as opposed to the “Traditional Ministry Flow” or “Attractional Model” looks like this:
Here the discipleship process begins much earlier; literally before conversion. I will have a look at this flow next week as we continue to see the major churches Jesus is bringing to His Church so that it will be built by Him His way.