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What are We Producingby Duane Mabee on October 6, 2021
What are we producing? Have you ever asked that question about our church? Jesus’ job description for us is to make disciples, fold them into a Christlike, loving fellowship, teach them to obey everything Jesus taught us, and send them out to repeat the process. The process isn’t complete until our disciples are making Christlike disciples.
Francis Chan asks a telling question in his book Letters to the Church. If everyone who graduated from Harvard ended up working as a line cook at McDonald’s, who in their right mind would spend the fortune required to send their kids to Harvard?
Outcomes aren’t everything, but they are important. If we say we are making disciples in obedience to Christ’s command, then the outcomes should prove it. If everyone who “graduated” from our church failed to thrive and reproduce as a Christlike disciple, why would Christ continue to trust us with more people? We should be able to point to the people who have attended our church and consistently give glory to God for the changes we see in their lives. The majority should be good examples of what it means to follow Christ and live godly lives out in the community. We should also be able to point to the next generation or generations of disciples who have been impacted by those who attended here and are now living for Christ and making other disciples.
Chan’s goal is to develop disciples who are mature enough that they could be dropped off alone in any city and they would continue to grow in Jesus, make disciples, and start a church. He views it as his job to train them to stand on their own feet spiritually rather than to be dependent on him. Take Timothy as a good example. Paul trained Timothy to the point that he could drop him off in Ephesus and fully expect that Timothy would thrive spiritually and minister effectively, without Paul. That’s really what it means to make disciples.
Unfortunately, Mike Breen is probably on to something when he asks, “Are we just good at getting people together once a week and maybe into a small group, or are we actually good at producing the types of people we read about in the New Testament? Have we shifted our criteria for a good disciple [to] someone who shows up to our stuff, gives money and occasionally feeds poor people?”
Given the state of Christianity in the U.S., it is obvious that every church needs to improve in the area of disciple making. We need to clearly understand what we’re trying to produce, and we need to look closely at the outcomes to determine if, in fact, that’s what we are producing. Otherwise, we’re in danger of becoming like a Harvard producing line cooks. The command of Jesus to make disciples is far too important to leave to chance or assumption.