One pastor writes:
“How can I inspire people to be discipled? I’ve invited, offered, modeled, and even begged. No bites.”
This reminds me of the story of a man taking a walk who comes upon another man hitting is head repeatedly against a wall?
“Why are you doing that?”
“Because it feels so good when I stop.”
If people don’t want to go deeper in their walk with Jesus there is very little we can do about it. I didn’t say there is nothing we can do about it, only that there is very little we can do about it. If we assume too much responsibility for the spiritual progress of our people we might end up like that man hitting his head against a wall. Once you stop, or at least adjust your attitude, and possibly your approach, it will feel good.
To ‘be discipled’ implies the engagement in the process by which someone becomes a disciple. If I were coaching this pastor, I would begin by asking him, “What do you mean by ‘discipled’? What does a disciple look like to you?”
If you want to make a disciple how will you know when you get one?
Begin by drawing up a list of what a disciple would look like or be or do. An example might be, “A disciple regularly reads their Bible, or regularly attends church, or…most important, a disciple tithes.” But seriously, you get what I mean.
Don’t have too many things on your list. If you have thirty-two signs of a disciple it is doubtful that you will ever accomplish making a disciple. Limit yourself to five or six. I know, I know, that’s gonna be hard but try.
Now that you can see clearly what you’re trying to create, draw up a list of all the things you’ve tried for making a disciple. What things on your list failed. Why? Is there anything on your list that has worked…even a little bit? Why? Is there anything you’d like to try but have not tried? Why do you think this might work when the other approaches have failed?
What’s preventing you from trying this?
Here’s an idea that maybe you haven’t tried, I call it BUILDING A CHRUCH WITHIN A CHURCH.
Identify those people in your church that seem to be, at least somewhat, interested in going deeper in their walk with Jesus. There might only be three, or two, or only your spouse. If even your spouse isn’t interested maybe it’s okay to go back to that wall.
Work with what you have, not with what you don’t have. If you’ve only got two people interested invite them into your home one night a week (or every other week) and begin to pray together and share together. Design this to be more of a discussion time than a teaching time. You might discuss the list you’ve come up with for what a disciple looks like. Don’t dominate these meetings, but instead, facilitate. Slowly, slowly, slowly this will work…but it takes time and patience.
I want to end with the worse case scenario. Let’s say nothing you try works. There’s no one who wants to come to your house, not even your spouse. What do you do then?
Give up…for now. Stop hitting your head against that wall. Continue to pray that God would give you one person to begin with. Keep praying that the Father would stir up the hearts of your people. Keep being faithful until God tells you it’s time to move on. Keep loving your people, teaching your people, and serving your people. And…even if there is no one in your church that wants to go deeper, you make sure that you are going deeper. It’s hard to make disciples.