Biblical Men need Strong Discipleship.

In this progressively-changing world, the call to discipleship is more important than ever. However, the modern Christian movement has played more of the greedy Shepard than the good shepherd; herding in converts, filling pews with fair-weathered Christians, and watering down the true word of God by feel-good sermons or prosperity gospel garbage. Theologian Greg Ogden laments: “We acknowledge that the state of the Church is marked by growth without depth”.[1] The current parishioner-ship is shallow in content but wide in intent. If we are to win the war for souls in America, we must be willing to engage the community with the same ferocity as Satan has. 

There are many reasons for this lack of theological rigor in American churches. Ogden states that the cause of such shallowness is superficial: “If I were to choose one word to summarize the state of discipleship today, that word would be superficial. There appears to be a general lack of comprehension among many who claim Jesus as Savior as to the implications of following him as Lord.”[2] He goes on to state multiple examples of this as the root cause of such superficiality; i.e. the reduction of the Christian life, making disciples through programs, a two-tiered understanding of discipleship, and the unwillingness to call those charged with discipleship.[3] This all points to a complacency permeated in the administration and outward ministry of the church. Merely converting non-Christians to verbally confess Jesus Christ as Lord does not fill the mandate of  “go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15 KJV) 

The brick and mortar structure of the twenty-first-century ministry confines the Christian community into a group-think that simply share the same belief-systems. This may be good and theologically strong but it often leads to a lack of testing all things and holding fast to what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Discipleship is based on relationships, not conversion numbers or program structures. Although programs can be beneficial if they are modeled on relationships, what we primarily see are small group programs that are actually just teaching sessions or learning series.

We must learn to sell the power of God and the success of living a life unto him in the same non-apologetic fashion and with the same passion for truth as Hollywood sells secularism, sin, and paganism. The mass medium of secularism is fighting the war against discipleship because it includes everyone, even superficial Christians. “This superficiality comes into startling focus when we observe the incongruity between the numbers of people who profess faith in Jesus Christ and the lack of impact on the moral and spiritual climate of our times.”[4] It is amazing to see the rise of Christianity in secular circles under the guise of ecumenicism or promulgated by the concept of Love. As if the love of God and His holiness did not mandate divine attributes such as judgment and wrath. 

Living a life in the discipleship of Jesus Christ takes great compassion and should be a beloved burden unto those that decide to do so. Spreading the gospel and saving those people lost must be a sacrificial move that will cause strict dedication to the word of God. “Rich compassion creates a rich burden, and a rich burden cannot be borne, it must be unloaded. The greater the attitude of compassion for the lost among Christians, the greater the burden for the lost.”[5] True discipleship is marked by the inner workings of the heart, not platitudes echoed on a Sunday morning and certainly not by reaching over to other belief-systems under the guise of unity. Holding the hand of a condemned sinner without sharing the only escape from that condemnation is not an act of love what so ever. 

In modern times it seems as the church is more concerned with how to be a happier Christian than teaching the lost how to have a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The modern church sells Christianity as the religion of cannot’s; as in you cannot do this or you cannot do that. Hollywood sells a church of cans; as anyone can do anything that pleases them. In the secular world, everything is good and permissible, from one degree to another. Both theologies are deprived of God’s divine will and purpose for mankind to live a life fulfilled without the fetters of sin. Who is teaching/preaching this?

We must engage America head-on and spread the truth of God’s love and salvation through positive affirmations that God is the God of can-do (Phillippeans 4:13) and will-do (Isaiah 46:10).

We do not intend this article to be blanketly critical of the entire church or the historical universal church. Churches have done, and continue to do, great work to enrich society with generosity and kindness. That being said,  if Christians are going to deny ourselves and pick up their cross daily (Matthew 16:24), they must start getting their hands a little dirty in the war that is taking place outside of the front doors. Discipleship is sacrifice and showing others that living a life in the Kingdom of God is beneficial and life-changing to combating the ills and suffering of this world. In doing this, true disciples must be willing to forgo the comforts and trappings of their brick and mortar mentality and lay down their lives for others. 

Footnotes:

  [1] Ogden, G. (2003). Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time (p. 22). Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books.

[2] Ogden, G. (2003). Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time (p. 22). Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books.

[3] This is the summation of Ogden’s root causes found in pages 20-25

[4] Ogden, G. (2003). Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time (p. 23). Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books.

[5] Woodrow Kroll. The Vanishing ministry in the 21st century: Calling A New Generation to Lifetime Service. Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI 2002 (p 93)

Bibliography

Johnson, Craig E. Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership Casting Light or Shadow. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2018.

Kroll, Woodrow Michael. The Vanishing Ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2002.

Ogden, Greg. Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time. IVP Books, 2010. 

Published by Samson

Concerned biblicist who challenges mainstream ideas and speaks truth to the powerful; consequences be damned! Many are tired of corrupt and manipulative leaders in politics, culture, and religion. This site serves as a platform for biblical truth, social responsibility, and good faith action.

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