Many in the church today have created their own definition of what it means to follow Jesus, they have created their own definition of what it means to “do” church.
For many, being a Christian simply means faithfully going to a church building on Sunday, maybe even Wednesday evening as well. For many, being a Christian means living a good moral life. For many, being a Christian means giving to charity.
Many Christians have sought to believe in Jesus and find a place of belonging in the church, but they then fall short of becoming like Jesus and bringing others in the same.
Problem is, in order for people to live the extraordinary lives they are offered by God, they must bring others to Jesus!
We see this in Luke chapter 5, “Behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus…he said to the man who was paralyzed—‘I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.’ And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen extraordinary things today’” (Luke 5:19, 24-26, ESV).
In this passage, we find at the end of the account of the healing of the paralyzed man, people declare, “We have seen extraordinary things today.” What did they see that was extraordinary? The healing of the paralytic. How did the paralytic get to Jesus? His friends brought him. The people in this passage experienced the extraordinary because some people brought their friend to Jesus.
The extraordinary happens as people bring others to Jesus!
Bringing people to Jesus is what everyday disciple makers do. But, unfortunately, we haven’t defined following Jesus as making disciples for a very long time.
Here’s how I know this. I have never heard someone say, “Can you believe so-and-so has been in the church for 20 years and they have never brought someone else to Jesus?” I’ve never heard someone say that. Have you? “Can you believe so-and-so has served in church leadership and they have never discipled another person into the kingdom?”
No one is making these kinds of statements. Right? And why does no one question another person’s disciple making ability? Because the enemy will do everything he can to keep us from doing the one thing that defines Christianity…making disciple makers.
The enemy will do everything he can to keep you from fulfilling your primary calling. The enemy does not want you fulfilling your destiny as an everyday disciple maker.
He does not want you living like Jesus, making disciple makers and experiencing the rich and satisfying life Jesus promises. He does not want you entering into the good works God has prepared for you (Ephesians 2:10).
Sadly, the lack of churches equipping people as everyday disciple makers has led to the overall decline of the church in North America. At a conference a couple of years ago, the speaker shared the following:¹
- 80% of churches have plateaued or are declining.
- 15% of churches are growing from church transfers.
- 5% of churches are growing from conversions.
- 53,000 people leave the church every week.
- 96 churches close their doors every week.
- 50 pastors leave the ministry every day.
These numbers are troublesome, but they should not be depressing. As you examine church history what you will find is that about every 500 years, every 1 in 10 generations, the church feels compelled to hold a giant rummage sale. We just happen to be living through one of those five-hundred-year sales.²
This rummage sale can either feel like a curse or a blessing. But if Jesus is at work, and He is, then we are blessed to watch Jesus transform His Church right before our eyes!
Jesus knows we need different results than we’ve been getting. There should be more than 5% of churches growing from conversions, so He is offering us a different way forward, a new beginning.
Exponential, a community of leaders committed to accelerating the multiplication of healthy, reproducing faith communities, categorizes churches in 5 levels: level 1 churches are declining, level 2 churches are plateauing, level 3 churches are adding, level 4 churches are reproducing, and level 5 churches are multiplying.
It is those churches who have made it their priority to equip people as everyday disciples makers whom Jesus continues to build. These churches are not just growing, they are multiplying and reproducing. 10 years ago, 3% of churches in America were considered level 4 or level 5, reproducing and multiplying churches. The goal is to see 10% of churches in America fit in this category, knowing, it will create a “tipping point” for all other churches to consider following Jesus in this direction. Today, there are not just 4% of churches in this category, not even 5 or 6%, but 7% of churches in America today represent reproducing and multiplying churches. It’s important to note that every one-percentage point of growth represents 5,000 churches. That means in the past 10 years, 20,000 churches have gone through a rummage sale. They are no longer making events and programs a priority but instead people whom the multitudes can follow. Jesus is building His Church!
Connection Point Church is on track to do the same, as we faithfully follow Jesus. We are awakening to a new beginning, one where we lead people to become everyday disciple makers of Jesus.³ People who live whole, live Jesus and live sent.
The best days are yet ahead! Isaiah writes, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19, ESV)
You are invited to a new thing, a new beginning, as we follow Jesus into the future for the Church. Will you awaken to a new beginning?
We’d Love to hear from you!
Does a new beginning excite you or concern you? Share your comments below.
1 Verlon Fosner of Fresh Expressions gathers his research from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. You will find similar findings from the book, The Great Evangelical Recession, from the Pew Research Center, the Gallup poll, Lifeway Research, Fox News, and even our West Lafayette demographics, which show a decrease in evangelical population and increase in those who claim no religious affiliation in the past 10 years. A couple of studies have been done to discount this claim, but it is poorly done research and usually by people who had to pay to have their work publicized.
2 Tickle, Phyllis. The Great Emergence.
3 You can also find a video message of this content here.