Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
Bonhoeffer’s definition of cheap grace is churches preaching a Christianity without the cost involved. Cheap grace is grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ. As a result, churches are crowded with a whole lot of confused people. We have set the bar too low. We do not expect growth, and we certainly don’t expect reproduction.
An indication of growth in Christ-likeness is bearing fruit. The transformed mind informs the will, and from the will, we act. Your belief impacts your behavior since your belief system fuels your behavioral pattern.
So why don’t believers want to make disciples and see our churches grow? Here are a few reasons why churches are struck and paralyzed from being able to reach the community:
1. We’d rather have our hands clean; we don’t want to get messy
We don’t want the drug addicts, the prostitutes, or the felons just out of prison in our churches. But if we want to look more like Jesus, we have to reconsider it. E. Stanley Jones said, “Three words were constantly upon Jesus’ lips: the least, the last, and the lost.”
Discipleship is down-and-dirty, ugly, and really messy. You find out people’s dirt. We must not be afraid to be honest about the mess we call real life.
2. We want the easy way out; we excuse ourselves at the altar of busyness
Relationships take time, but we don’t want to take the time. In reality, too busy is a myth. People make time for the things that are really important to them. Busyness makes us stop caring about the things we ought to care about most, for time is a daily treasure that attracts many robbers. Busyness robs us of being able to do things that really matter on God’s agenda.
3. We want to stay in the pulpit; we do not live among the people
I think at times (most of the time), it is a lot easier when we are just in the spotlight preaching for 30 to 40 minutes, driving back home, and then doing the same thing the following week.
Why? Because then you really don’t have to care about real-life issues. Rather than doing life 24/7 as Jesus did with His disciples, the church has become where people attend on Sundays rather than people who gather as a family. Perhaps that is why Matthew Henry lamented some preachers in the pulpit, “preaching so well that it is a pity they should ever come out; but, when out of the pulpit, living so ill that it is a pity they should ever come in.”
4. We want to do church work; we don’t want to do Christ work
Most of us don’t want to be real and let our guards down. We are, in a sense, like the Pharisees who said something like this: Jesus, thank you that I’m not like that person over there (Luke 18:9–14).
It’s time for a change. But change only happens when people’s pain associated with the status quo is greater than the pain associated with change. True change happens for leaders when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of change.