The Elephant Sitting On the American Church

I’m heartbroken.

Our churches are filled with people that have been “saved” for decades, but have never shared the gospel with anyone.  Church goers across the country seem to be weighed down with a lifetime of sermons instead of being propelled by them. How could this happen?

The American Church has access to more sermons, teachings, and ministry programming than at any other time in history and yet where is the fruit in the individual lives of believers?  

How could people that claim to be filled with the empowering Spirit of God that gives a boldness to witness, be too scared of rejection to witness? Can we call a local church successful if 98% of that church do not share their faith or disciple another person? Can there be such a thing as powerless Spirit-filled people?

This is broken.

Much like the way we avoid getting on the scale, or opening the door to that junk room that’s a mess, we as pastors have chosen to look the other way. For to speak of or look at the results of our “equipping” would cause many of us to be fired or leave the ministry post haste.

Resigning themselves to having non-evangelizing congregants, many pastors now simply ask their people to just “get them here.”  Yet, in the process we’ve taught our people through this repeated practice that inviting someone to church is the extent of evangelism. By doing so our congregations have solely relied on us as pastors to witness for them. We’ve confused having a crowd (even a growing crowd) as having ministry success. I wrote about walking away from this obsession here.

Last year our church went through  a journey of taking our people through a discipleship series that in the end they themselves were encouraged to take others through. While some were eager to take up the challenge to begin to disciple others, many ignored the call. Others said, “I don’t have anyone to disciple, but I’d be willing to take someone through it that the church assigned to me.” Of course, this was somewhat of a positive response, but notice it was not even on their radar to be winning people themselves to disciple.

For the most part, I believe this is a pastoral leadership problem. In our church, the buck stops with me.

At this point, I’ve had to resist going back to the drawing board and formulating a new plan of process and programming. I’ve learned the hard way that we cannot mass produce disciples. God has called me to my knees and if you’re a fellow pastor, I plead with you to go there with me.

The hard truth is: we duplicate who we are.

If our people are not weeping over the lost, it’s most likely because the eyes of pastors are dry as well.

Father God, would you awaken your church, stir us as shepherds. Stoke the embers of our hearts to no longer be satisfied with merely crowds. Shape our hearts first as we seek to shape disciples that will make other disciples! In Jesus name, Amen.