Instead of working out how to land and begin to transform the land, we the church have focused our energies on keeping afloat. Usually this entails pumping out as much hot air as possible, and dropping sandbags of condemnation onto the needy world below. We drift along, feeling safe that we have a secure salvation when we die, but neglecting our call to go and make disciple-making disciples of Jesus today.
If this picture appalls you, then you will likely recognize the need to create a different kind of church for the future!
Back in the era of Christendom – when the Christian story was generally accepted as the dominant narrative for our culture – we could perhaps get away with an escapist view of church. The landscape was familiar, and most viewed our task as dropping gently down to fill up the basket with folks wanting to be lifted closer to God. But in a post-Christian society, that approach simply won’t work.
In recent years there has been a surge of interest in disciple-making. This has stirred more Christians to think deeply about how to make disciples of Jesus wherever we go throughout the week, instead of simply seeing this as an ‘in-house’ occupation for Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. As we look back on those shifts, and plan new moves for the future, it is important to have accurate data about the state of the church today, so that we can see where we’re winning and where we are failing to make our efforts count.
To help this, we are honored to partner with our good friends at Discipleship.org and Exponential in the release of a brand new report on the state of disciple making in the US today –
The National Study on Disciple-Making Churches in the U.S.
The report reveals a slew of troubling pieces of data. For instance:
- Fewer than 5% of churches in the US have a reproducing disciple-making culture
- Most churches lack commonly understood definitions around disciple making
- Most churches overestimate their impact on their surrounding community
The report then goes on to make a number of helpful and practical recommendations, including:
- Embracing disciple-making as the core mission of the local church
- Having clear and widely shared language in each church for what it means to be a disciple, and disciple-maker
- Developing new measures of success, so that churches stop making Sunday morning attendance their prime metric
1. As you look at these three simple suggestions, which one looks the most pressing for your context?
2. Where is your own practice of disciple-making lacking? What is your specific next step to grow in this area?
Discipleship That Fits
This award-nominated book on how discipleship works in different sizes of gatherings has been widely recommended over the past few years. Co-authored with discipleship.org founder Bobby Harrington, if gives you practical frameworks for defining, explaining, and building a robust disciple-making culture in your church, group, or place of mission.