Why does disciple making begin outside of the Church?

Obviously from the title of this blog I believe disciple making begins outside of the Church. My position (paradigm) is influenced by four things:

  • I’m a disciple of Jesus and have been for a long time
  • I live in Australia which is a Post Christendom nation
  • I’m interested in and work with a number of Post Christian Post-Moderns leaders and organisations
  • In all that I do I look to Jesus first – The Pre-Constantine Church second – The modern church sometimes

If you start with the last point above you find the following

·       Jesus started His work in the harvest. He worked with the people the Father guided him to. Somewhere in that journey those people committed their lives to him (the when wasn’t important).

  • Jesus commanded us
    • As the Father Sent Me, So I Send You (John 20:19-31)
    • “As You Go about you normal life” make disciples (Mathew 28:18-20)
  • The pre-Constantine church worked in the harvest because they were a minority group in a pagan world (similar to today)
  •  In the early Church, disciple-making was part of the normal life of a believer. This is why the church grew so quickly
  •  The post- Constantine church was based on the thinking of Aristotle and became institutional rather than relational
  • Today fewer people identify with the modern church but are interested in Jesus
  • The post- Constantine church has to be obedient to Jesus and look back to the pre-Constantine church to move forward. The world has changed and we need to see the world as basically pagan (North America may have been slower to shed Christendom concepts but the church there is in decline).

Many Church leaders I work with are committed to the mission of Jesus but express this commitment through a modern paradigm. My encouragement to these leaders is to spend some time to ask the following.

  • Am I doing what Jesus asked me to do?
  • Is what I’m doing really working?

Church as we once knew it may never be the same after Covid-19, but that doesn’t change the fact that Jesus said “I will build my Church’ and “As you go, Make Disciples”.

2 thoughts on “Why does disciple making begin outside of the Church?

  1. As you said, the two questions we should ask ourselves, are key. However, I wonder how many church leaders can clearly articulate what Jesus asked them to do specifically. More importantly, can we realistically evaluate if what we’re doing is really working?
    So often, we’re caught in the trap of doing what we’ve always done, been taught, or inherited. One big obstacle is the traditions of our peers, team, or followers. These traditions are not necessarily old. They can be things that worked pre covid and not working now. I think we need good objective evaluation of our disciple making process but more importantly, the understanding of how to bring about change effectively once we are clear about what we were asked to do. I think a good change process from what was working to what we need to do, is often lacking.

  2. Graham unfortunately your insights are very real. Often when I ask pastors the question “Is what your doing really working?” I get a “Yes” answer because they are doing what they have been taught to do. Thankfully I sometimes get a different response like “Yes, but we are not seeing what we believe to be the outcomes that the Church should be seeing”. Even when I get that response it often takes years to go through the change process. I’m thankful that this has happened a number of times and the outcomes are amazing which justifies the time spent.

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