'The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared' (Luther).” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Here is a problem:
“For the seventh year in a row, the Southern Baptist Convention, America's largest Protestant denomination, has seen a "heartbreaking slide" in baptisms. Last year saw the second-worst total of baptisms in 60 years, and this year the denomination lost more than 105,000 members and 188,000 Sunday worshipers, according to its Annual Church Profile.” (Christianity Today, Baptizing the Dora Generation, Keven P. Emmert June 10, 2014)
“The percentage of U.S. Catholics who consider themselves “strong” members of the Roman Catholic Church has never been lower than it was in 2012, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new data from the General Social Survey (GSS). About a quarter (27%) of American Catholics called themselves “strong” Catholics last year, down more than 15 points since the mid-1980s and among the lowest levels seen in the 38 years since strength of religious identity was first measured in the GSS, a long-running national survey carried out by the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago.” (Pew Research, Catholic Identity at Four Decade Low, March 13, 2013)
Proof that “programs” don’t work. Programs that are supposed to bring people into the faith, and develop those in the faith, are not producing lasting results.
We’ve devalued the individual, in the church, and outside the church. We take their God given individual gifts and personalities and attempt to force them into our preset agendas, “programs”. This, when people are very different in how they learn, and the time it takes them to reach maturity in the faith. Revolutionary Action is to use your gifts to help the individuals in your life and be extremely cautious in which programs you choose to participate or recommend.
“Most people in America, when they are exposed to the Christian faith, are not being transformed. They take one step into the door, and the journey ends. They are not being allowed, encouraged, or equipped to love or to think like Christ. Yet in many ways a focus on spiritual formation fits what a new generation is really seeking. Transformation is a process, a journey, not a one-time decision.” (David Kinnaman, unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity... and Why It Matters)
Each individual has gifts, that when shared with other individuals, helps the church invisible and visible and the culture.
Maybe like me you are sick of “god-words” and “god-talk”. Brothers and sister pray for revival, but invest in no one. They gather behind four walls and ask for a great awakening, only to walk out into the world offering nothing. We should pray, yes. Pray as we work,
They want to see people come to Christ, but do not know any person outside the faith. They won’t invest the hard work and time into developing relationships so that they might receive permission to speak into someone’s life.
Until we consistently invest in the lives of those that are not followers of Christ, in the place where we are, there will be no revolution or revival. Until we teach what “Life Together” looks like for those in the faith, they will not be looking to introduce it to others. No one wants to invite someone to a place where there is a poor orthodoxy of community.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”- Matthew 28:19
This is a paradox verse, in that it is both macro and micro in reference to the “world”. Some are called to “leave” where they are and go live a “Life Together” in other cultures. But this verse and commission are not just for the missionary going to foreign shores, the verse is also speaking about the place in the world where God has placed you now. Ephesians 2:10. But, in making “disciples” not just converts, we have a command to care for the individual. Discipleship demands an investment in one person at a time. Group approaches are not working. Preaching point are cotton candy for the brain and group motivational speeches. Thank God He works with each of us in a unique individual relationship. This is also what we must offer to be revolutionary. We must 'pastor' in the true sense of the word.
Converts may be lost due to no content. Disciples replicate.
Revolutionary action requires one-on-one discipleship.
In the place where you are now you may have a spouse and children. These are individuals that need the investment of your life. They are your world. They are your primary focus. If unsaved, yours to live and laugh with, guide, communicate with, love, and provide reliable content. If in the faith, yours to live and laugh with, guide, communicate with, love and provide reliable content.
You want to change the world? Invest in one person with all you are and have.
Revolution starts when you stop planning on how you will save the planet, and focus on your son or daughter. Revolution starts when you stop trying to get your neighbor to a church Bible study and start talking about life over their favorite beer at the place they are most comfortable. Revolution starts when you learn the story of the homeless man you pass every day and meet a need. Revolution starts when you bring the example of faith into your work place and meet the needs of those you work with.
If you want to make disciples you’ve got to get out there in the ugly.
I’ll end once again with Bonhoeffer: 'The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared' (Luther).” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community
Get up out at the pew and go get some mud on you.