Culture and Discipleship – What It Takes to Make Disciples Today

It’s trite to say our mission is to make disciples for Jesus Christ.

Is there a church in America that doesn’t believe this is true?  If you belong to a church, this is automatically your mission.  Jesus said so.  Nobody quibbles about the mission of the church.  No matter what denomination you belong to, we can all agree this is what we are supposed to be doing.  But the question is HOW do we go about DOING that?

In the face of today’s culture, Outreach magazine asked this question to nine different influential people who have faced this question for themselves and sought serious answers.

What follows are excerpts from the article in the May/June 2017 article of Outreach magazine:

What do you see as the biggest challenge to effective discipleship in the American church? Christiana Rice, co-author of To Alter Your World – There is a grave contradiction at play.  On one hand, many people want to find their own truth and have the freedom to question the traditional beliefs of the church.  On the other hand, these same people still expect clergy or spiritual leaders to do the work of excavating the truth for them…

How can the church redemptively engage the culture while remaining faithful to its discipleship mission? Josh Patrick, co-author The Disciple Maker’s Handbook – The church in America has a serious image problem.  When we point the Bible at the culture like a weapon of condemnation, our witness is severely damaged.  We have wasted too much time and energy on causes that have nothing to do with the core mission of the church.  Imagine what would happen if every churchgoer in America redirected his or her political and social angst toward the Great Commission…

Which cultural issues will have the biggest influence on the church in the next five years? Tom Doyle, author of Standing in the Fire – A great place to start is with the growing population of refugees and immigrants.  Most of America fears them.  Because of Islamic terrorism and because most Americans get their worldview from cable news, refugees are often shunned and isolated.  One church in the Northwest decided to be different.  When they were told that over 900 refugees from Syria and Iraq were going to be sent to their city…[they] obtained the flight schedules from the city…and were waiting for the refugees when they began landing at the airport.  Their signs were printed in Arabic and said: “Welcome to our city! We’re glad you’re here!  We love Jesus and we’re your friends.”

That’s just a sample of the many in-depth and varying answers to tough questions about discipleship in the church.  But to me it was encouraging to not only see other church leaders battling with these questions, but also honestly facing some of the problems and at times offering viable solutions.  Discipleship is just a “churchy” term for deepening people’s relationship with Jesus – something we are all called on to do.

Copyright © 2017 by Outreach Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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