There is a great need in the church: A need for people who are morally pure. A need for people to rethink and reshape what they believe and practice on kingdom principles. A need for people who are passionate to spend time with Jesus. A need for people who know how to disciple others - and do it! A need for people who take initiative to share the gospel - and go for it! A need for people who are not spiritual orphans…who know where they belong, who are faithful, and who are fruitful.
Churches are filled with spiritual orphans. A spiritual orphan is a Jesus follower who doesn’t belong to a church family with a spiritual father or mother to disciple them. Spiritual orphans become independent, they carry a rejection spirit, they are spiritually isolated, they don’t know how to father or mother others, they bounce from one spiritual family to another.
Spiritual orphans run to other orphans to find out who they are, reinforcing in one another the worst traits of emotionally and spiritually disconnected people.
How do you get people free from spiritual orphanhood? You invite them relationally to move. To move away from distant discipling, perhaps by a Christian celebrity through their books or music. The danger with distant discipling is that it’s not up close & real, it's haphazard and produces isolation, independence, super-spirituality, blind spots, lack of accountability and genuine community. These people must also move away from occasional discipling - the inconsistent hit and miss kind of discipleship. The danger with occasional discipling is that it’s too infrequent. With different people you get different foundations, and selective accountability. A positive move is to intentional discipling in a church family, with clear goals for personal growth, accountability, spiritual depth, the ability to be open to others in the body of Christ, strong foundations, and a reproduction of fruit naturally.
There are right and wrong questions to ask about your church. Wrong questions include "How can I get people to be more faithful to my church?" "How can I grow my church bigger?" "How can I get people to volunteer and be faithful?" "How big is your church?"
One must remember that discipleship in a local church is not a program for church growth.
Inversely, right questions include "How can I disciple people to Christ?" "What is the process for building foundations and freedom in people’s lives?" "How can we disciple people to make disciples in the harvest, who disciple others also?"
What you measure in your church determines what you build in your church. Do you measure “disciples who obey” or “people who attend”? Do you disciple people to Christ or to your church? Discipleship defined is intentional relationship. There needs to be a clearly defined process for discipling your people - one that is simple and reproducible. Don’t put pressure on yourself to disciple everyone, just those who want to be discipled. In every congregation there are crowds, curious, and the committed. Focus on the committed while you keep challenging the curious and inviting the crowds to more.
Give 80% of your time to the 20% who are most serious about obeying and reproducing. Most pastors do the opposite, and burn out because of it. They give 80% of their time and energy to the 20% who are least serious and most noisy and demanding.