Before you freak, hear me out. Let's expect less from our buildings. Let's expect more from our people.
Church, we've made a mistake. For years we've tried different things in order to be effective, relevant to the culture around us. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever... no one is arguing that. But how we, the Church, have communicated this over time has changed... and in order to stay effective we need to change again. It's time to simplify. Because what worked yesterday doesn't work today. 63% of people aren't interested in coming to your church. 79% of them, however, will talk about faith to their friends. Our buildings are losing their influence. Our people are not.
Our churches have become complex, multi-million dollar organizations. Between our weekend services, camps, events, trips, etc we are very busy at creating content to be consumed. Yes, even that one hour on Sunday can feed consumerism in the pews. All this content has dulled many of our attenders spiritually, lulled into a stupor of church being a checklist. Church Online hasn't helped either. Online has made it easier for all of us to be hearers of the word... but the downfalls of Church Online are the overall church's as well. While we've creating hearers... consumers, we have neglected to create doers... disciples.
The word "discipleship" is used so often the word has lost meaning. For sake of conversation, let's say that someone who is a disciple is capable creating/training other disciples. Most of us would agree that is the job of the church. But if we stop do a true introspection of our ministries, we'll likely find that the actual act of "creating disciples" has been the vehicle of our church staff, not of our attenders. To be more efficient in creating disciples, our church staffs have created complex systems that are excellent at creating content, but miss the mark at relationally creating a disciple who can create another disciple.
There's something to be said about the American approach to lowering the [spiritual] bar, and trying to make things as easy as possible to be involved. Rooted is quite frankly the opposite. It is raising the bar, asking people to do things that are, in some cases, well outside their comfort zone. It's demanding their time and resources. It asks a lot of people, but we've found a correlation... the lower we brought the bar of discipleship, the lower the impact we saw. And so we just started raising the bar higher and higher and higher and people continue to exceed our expectations no matter how high we place it.
- Jared Kirkwood - The Church Digital Podcast EP019
The easy answer isn't always the right answer. While it's easy to look at our weekend services as the end of the work week, Church, our weekend services will struggle to create disciples who create disciples. While our services are an excellent way to communicate to people in mass, is it an effective way to disciple someone to the place where they can effectively disciple someone else? We've unfortunately created this standard of Church that may be historically effective in creating Christians, not disciples... and truthfully, the effectiveness is waning. Just look at your church's overall attendance. Dropping, right? What if we did something radical here... rather than continuing to raise the standard on what church is, what if we rose the standard on our attenders... challenging them to become a disciple who could effectively create disciples.
First Capital Christian Church lowered the standard of "church". Seems like a weird thing to say, "lowering the standard of church". But sixteen services a week in different locations across their small town (prison systems, after-school centers, hospital rehab centers, workplaces, homes)... led completely by volunteers... First Capital is a prime example of lowering the standard of church, and raising the standard of a disciple.
The theology of church stays the same, while the practicality of it is much simpler. Using materials like Rooted, churches are able to align the people to the overall Church mission and vision, but at the same time empower people to their own personal mission... not one where we are only inviting people to services, but where they are relationally called to become a disciple who creates disciple.
Look at your ministry and evaluate. Are you creating a consumer, or a disciple who's capable of creating other disciples? Need help? Check out the Rooted material. or download our eBook: "What Happens When Church Online Grows Up", talking about how your Church Online, and arguably your church overall, would benefit from a strong discipleship pathway.