We’ll call them Brian and Victoria Samples. They are followers of Jesus, born-again, and church shoppers. Following the tried-and-true method of how to select a new church passed down from their parents, the young couple sits through several worship services, boldly leave their toddler in childcare, and pray about their fit with that church.
Now, there’s another couple we’ll call Terrance and Charlene Goforth. They are followers of Jesus, born-again, and church shoppers, too. They have been discipled to study their Bibles and come up with an ideal of what a church should be. Using that standard, they approach worship services as a holy time of repentance and renewal, spend time with childcare workers exploring how they can make their toddler’s experience positive and enriching, and dedicate portions of each week praying about opportunities to serve, using their gifts to align with the church’s greatest needs.
The Samples are spectators looking for the best “show” around. The Goforths see themselves as part of the greater Body of Christ and want the Holy Spirit to use them in the church setting.
But there is yet another person. We’ll call her Shania. She has just become a follower of Jesus and doesn’t know any other believers except Lily, a friend at work who introduced her to Jesus. Shania has never been to a church and her parents never “darkened the door” either. Shania is excited about her new faith in Christ and enjoys telling her toddler what she is learning about the Lord.
Now, Shania’s co-worker, Lily, has been equipped to make disciple-makers. Shania is not on her own. Lily knows that Shania would be lost in her regular Bible study class at church since they’re further down-track with long-standing Christians attending. So, Lily frees up her schedule to spend time with Shania, seeks feedback on her spiritual development, and gently corrects her when appropriate to do so.
Lily is committed to making disciples, so she goes with Shania to visit with Trace, a guy she is dating. And on a couple of Sundays, Lily visits Shania’s parents since that was the only day they all had free. Lily coached Shania for at least an hour before they made the visits. And in each visit, Lily silently prayed while Shania worked in her salvation experience as a natural part of the conversation.
Shania led her parents and her guy-friend to faith in Christ, just as Lily had done with her. Then Lily began discipling all four of them to become disciples. They are meeting with Lily to study, discuss, and apply the Bible each week. And through their friendships, Lily is going with Trace and Shania’s parents to help them share the Gospel with lost people they know. In about three weeks, Lily has seen eight people accept Christ and begin worshipping and studying God’s Word together. They became not only a Bible study, but began intentionally taking on the characteristics of a church.
Who is this super-Christian, Lily, anyway? Lily, Shania’s disciple-maker, is part of a disciple-making church. Lily participates in a weekly inductive Bible study using Bible stories to learn that week’s lesson geared for new believers and disciple-making. Lily listens carefully and is fully-engaged since she knows that she’ll likely get the same questions from Shania, her parents, and Trace later that week in their small group.
Oh, and Lily has only been a Christian for six months.
The Samples and Goforths were highly experienced church shoppers. But neither of the couples were disciple-makers. Lily was intentionally being used of God to start a movement through her evangelism/discipleship relationship with Shania. There was no church shopping because the relationship they had through Christ bonded them together.
Shania’s parents eventually became church members where Lily attended. However, Shania and Trace got married and are starting a new highly-reproducible house church.
Want to stop church shopping among your church’s members? Then make them disciple-makers – as Jesus commanded.
Mark Snowden serves Missouri Baptists as Evangelism/Discipleship Strategist (573) 556-0318 or firstname.lastname@example.org