How did Jesus gauge effectiveness?

‘Many church leaders today fall into the trap of gauging success by the ABC’s of growth: Attendance, Buildings, and Cash.  However, there is a serious problem with this scorecard, namely, that Jesus never gauged effectiveness by these criteria. This kind of evaluation reveals what we want and not what God wants.  Far too often we allow our egos to hinder spiritual growth in ourselves and those around us, when God wants us to toss aside our preconceptions, lay down what mankind sees as important, and embrace the mission that he has called us to’. Robby Gallaty

Joey Bonifacio, author of The Lego Principle, once began some teaching by asking a group of pastors to associate a product with a particular brand.  “I’m going to say a brand or a popular trade mark” he told them.  “I want you to answer, in only one word, the business the company represents”.  Let’s start here:

‘Starbucks.” The room answered, “Coffee.”

“Toyota.” “Cars.”

“Rolex.” “Watches.”

With each brand, the attendees chimed in without hesitating until the final one. “The Church.”

At that, the room fell silent. The pastors were thinking, trying to come up with a word that would describe the “work” of the church.  What’s that “one word”? What would your answer be?

I know what my word would be: Discipleship.

One of the greatest problems we face in the church today is that we have outsourced the task of disciple-making to a handful of “full-time” ministers to do the job that Jesus gave to all of us to do.  We will never carry out the Great Commission if only full-time vocational ministers are making disciples.  Discipleship wasn’t a ministry of the first-century church. It was the ministry of the church. 

Shouldn’t it be ours as well?

When Jesus extends an invitation to us his disciples to follow him, we should respond without hesitation.  The disciples of Jesus immediately dropped what they were doing and followed him.  In this we learn that obedience precedes service.

Don’t forget that the call from the Master is just that – a call.  Jesus comes looking for us.  The disciples didn’t pursue him, he found them.  And this is still how Jesus does it.  In fact, we are incapable of looking for him apart from his grace.  We are dead in our trespasses and sins, sinners enamoured with our sin and blinded by the god of this world from seeing the light of the gospel, the glory of Christ (Eph. 2:1-3; 2 Cor. 4:4).

Jesus discipled twelve men who would later change the world, and, as he walked with them, he gradually encouraged them into ministry. Being a disciple of Jesus is no different.  Jesus will not simply walk with us and teach us more and more. Discipleship has an end goal: to be conformed to the image of Christ – to talk the way he talked, walk the way he walked, respond the way he responded and make disciples the way he did. 

Elton Trueblood, a noted twentieth-century theologian, once commented on the central problem facing the church, even as the membership rolls grew in number: a profound lack of involvement and the lack of serious commitment to the mission of Christ:

Perhaps the greatest single weakness of the contemporary Christian Church is that millions of supposed members are not really involved at all and, what is worse, do not think it strange that they are not.  As soon as we recognize Christ’s intention to make His Church a militant company, we understand at once that the conventional arrangement cannot suffice.  There is no real chance of victory in a campaign if ninety percent of the soldiers are untrained and uninvolved, but that is exactly where we stand now.

3 thoughts on “How did Jesus gauge effectiveness?

  1. Once we come back to discipleship being the church’s work, I wonder how many churches could simply define what discipleship looks like. Is it a course, a Bible study, mentoring, personal time with God guided by a book or person, etc. Then how does a person become a disciple maker in a local church. I don’t think many know how they can personally be involved in the disciple making process.

  2. Good questions Graeme. I have never found a Church that has initially defined it’s primary work as discipleship (The good news is I have worked with many churches that have moved to that point very quickly). The explanation of discipleship is usually tradition based which means you can figure it out before you start working with a Church. Becoming a disciple-maker in a local Church depends on where you believe discipleship starts in the life of an individual and the last book you read on the subject. Still, if it was the ministry of the church we would move past these questions and do it the way Jesus wants us to do it. Appreciate the fact that you are a disciple who believes in making disciples.

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