America is the land of the “Mega Church”; enormous organizations built with solid business principles that are run as smoothly as a well-conditioned school or hospital. Personally, I’m not one to “bash” Mega Churches. I believe churches of 5,000 to 50,000 congregants are helping tons of people. I value a high level of passion and excellence and I’m all for as many people as possible walking in the Kingdom.
However, I do want to ask a question.
“What scares the enemy?”
Does a large body of people scare the enemy? Do huge organizations that operate in the name of Jesus Christ make the enemy nervous? At this point in my life, I can answer “yes” to that question, if and only if, one thing is happening in these places: disciples are being made.
Recently, I was preaching in Hampton, Virginia and was asked, “What scares the enemy?” I thought about it for a few seconds and replied, “Disciples who walk in power, terrify the enemy. What does not terrify the enemy is a person who simply pays a few tithes, sits in a room with a bunch of other people a few times a month and listens to a very entertaining sermon.”
In my time as Lead Pastor of Bridgeway Church, I have been asking myself, “What will be our scorecard?” For most of my life, I have noticed that the scorecard for most churches is:
1. How many tithes are coming in. 2. How many people are showing up on Sundays.
There is nothing inherently evil in these two things but I do not believe that this is the scorecard that Jesus Christ is looking at. I believe Jesus is still interested in what He was interested in many years ago when He said the words in Matthew 28, “Go and make disciples.”
If we are not making disciples that are learning to walk in the character and competency of Jesus Christ; then I am asking, “What are we doing?”
When my life is over, I want the Lord to look at me and say, “Chad, thank you for being obedient to what I called you to do.” Jesus is calling me to make disciples and teach the Bridgeway team how to make disciples. We still have our diapers on in terms of building a culture of discipleship but at least we have left the old mindset of only counting fannies in seats and money in buckets. We want to raise spiritual mothers and fathers who give their lives away to raise up other disciples who walk in power.
In John 6, we see Jesus be very challenging in His sermon and many of His disciples deserted Him. He even asked Peter if he was going to leave. Jesus did not seem to have a passion for gathering many people. He had more of a passion for teaching truth and inviting others to join Him in His journey, even if it was hard. Jesus cared more about developing His disciples than He did creating an enormous ministry that revolved around people simply hearing Him teach.
The church in the west needs to do the same.
My goal is to have a development culture at Bridgeway Church. I think it will take us at least five years to build a strong culture of discipleship. At least, five years. In the mean time, I am continuing to help our team sink our teeth down into the mentality of a developmental culture over a delivery culture. When someone asks me how church was on a Sunday I immediately try to steer the conversation to our overall goal of making disciples and not just evaluating a 90-minute service each week.
Come Lord Jesus. Help us.