Recently, a secular journalist wrote a book, called “Death of the Grown Up,” where she catalogued the shift in western culture over the last 10 years. The book has some fascinating statistics:
• Nearly one out of three 30-year-olds have not left their parents’ home.
• There are more adults today in America, ages 18-49, who watch Cartoon Network more than they watch CNN.
• The average video gamester in 1990 was 18; today, it is 35 years old; many spend 20 hours a week playing.
• The National Academy of Science has redefined adolescent (on set of puberty and adulthood) as a time lasting from age 12 till 30 years old.
• The McArthur Foundation funded a research study that was conducted several years ago, which argues that male adolescence does not end until age 34 in the western world.
As I pastor and grow older, I am more convinced that we need more men and women who are willing to grow old. Not just to age, but to grow old well and model “adulthood” to our younger generations.
“Older Christian” doesn’t automatically mean “mature” Christian. In fact, those with whom you most likely have conflict within your church are older people who never grew up. Old age doesn’t necessarily make a man more faithful nor more civil.
Here are the four ways leaders can engage discipleship more effectively to help Christians grow into spiritual adulthood.
1. Devote yourself to being a disciple:
A disciple is one who follows Christ and is a fisher of men (Matt. 4:19). We see in the final words of Christ as well he calls them to, “Go Make Disciples” (Matthew 28:19-20).
“Well, I make disciples! I have Christian friends,” someone might say. But not all relationships where spiritual conversations take place are discipling kinds of relationships.
2. Declare your identity in Christ:
The gospel calls us to abandon our lives and live and walk into Christ- likeness as our identity. There must be a willingness to die to self and live for Christ. It is not about you. It is about Him working in and through you.
If you are not living in such a way, you are believing in a false gospel. Believing true, biblical Christianity rooted in the true gospel will shape you as a disciple.
3. Display Christ-like character:
If you had to be honest with me, a lot of stuff that we see in our behavior sometimes doesn’t match up with our belief system. How is this possible? It is easy for one to say they believe something simply because they think of it from time to time.
“Well, I’ve always just been this way.” If you always been what you’ve always been then you may need to ask if you’ve ever really met Jesus. Meeting Jesus changes everything.
4. Disciple others by making disciples.
We must be careful of teaching the right kind of discipleship. When we teach a form of discipleship that does not result in reproduction, we miss the mark. People cannot grow up in their faith when they’re not in an environment where they can be discipled.
“Well, I’m not good enough!” Yeah, the disciples weren’t the greatest and the brightest either! Robert Coleman, in his book Master Plan of Discipleship, said it well: “Jesus followers were not required to be smart, but they had to be loyal.”
Radical Discipleship: Costly Commitment, A Call for All.
“Well that’s too hard,” someone might respond. “I will continue on with what we got.” When we say of a biblical command, “I don’t THINK that will work,” what we have done is elevate our reason above God’s Word.
Our churches are brimming with too many people who are full of themselves and not Christ. Until we admit we don’t know everything, we can’t learn anything. A disciple must be teachable. This is not much at all.
So, what is holding you back? Refusing to embrace a biblical mandate of making disciples through mission is a heart issue, not a head issue – a lack of passion, not a lack of knowledge.