[As soon as I posted this I realized I was off on the wrong foot. If it is a movement, we won’t start it but we would have to embrace it. And I believe God is moving us in the direction of discipleship and discipling in line with the Great Commission (which Barna tells us half of Christians don’t even know what that term means!).]
Something has to change. I heard this all week at Pepperdine. I have heard it in countless conversations since then on the phone and through private messages and emails. Many of our churches are floundering, directionless, and in need of purpose.
Something has to change. We can’t keep going on like we have in the past. First, our purpose has to change. It used to be our purpose was to correct people to our way of church. We largely gave up on that effort and people care far less about that than they used to anyway. But we never replaced that purpose with anything viable. We lost our purpose but continued our forms without the same convictions we had in the past.
We are clearly in decline as a whole. I hope we can turn that around.
To be perfectly clear there are many organizations affiliated with Churches of Christ that are working on discipleship. Many, many, many. They are doing great work. The resources exist.
How do we get this to translate to the church where you worship? How do we get a movement wide revival among autonomous churches that never played well together in the first place?
I believe the answer is prayer.
Revival always starts with prayer.
If you don’t know the right direction, pray.
If you are tired of the way things have been, pray.
If you see unhealthy systems all around you, pray.
If you long for a better tomorrow, pray.
If you want to know what to do differently but can’t put your finger on it, pray.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. ” – James 1:5-8
I cannot tell you God will answer your prayer with one word – Discipleship. But I can tell you that if we aren’t making disciples, we aren’t doing what Jesus said to do and I believe this is at the root of our problem.
I believe we are ready for a movement that is infused with grace and the Holy Spirit. I believe we are primed to take this Bible that has been so precious to us and teach it to those who have never heard. The fields could never be more ripe for the harvest than they are right now. We just have to pay attention and be faithful.
There also needs to be a mention by people of what G-d has done for them. This may sound like a testimonial that is shunned in the cofC but too many people these days are asking “where is their G-d?”. Look at Psalm 79 and others. I know that celebrating anything was deemed “too Catholic” because of those who followed the liturgical calendar but who got to determine that nothing could ever be celebrated. The Jews have both festivals of lament and celebration and Jesus would have celebrated those.
I guess you know that the ICOC was known as The Discipling Movement for many years. There were definitely excesses, but they did some things right in those days. Flavil Yeakley studied them at the time and wrote a book analyzing the movement. Most was critical, but there was an excellent chapter about what we could learn from them.
You might dig around for that book. Would have been published mid- to late-eighties.