While speaking of the early Church leaders, the book of Acts declares, “These men who have turned the world upside down.” What was it about the early Church that we don't see much of today?
We live in a culture where the world has turned the Church upside down. I once heard a story about a U.S. battle ship that eventually became a cruise boat. Built in the 1940’s the United States Navy constructed an $80 million ship. It could carry 15,000 troops and could travel up to 10,000 miles without having to refuel. The problem was that it was never used as a troop carrier, instead they transformed it to be used as a luxury liner for presidents, the rich and the famous. It only carried a maximum of 2,000 rich & important people instead of 15,000 troops. It had 695 rooms, 4 dining rooms, 3 bars, 2 theaters, 5 acres of open field with a heated pool, 19 elevators and it was also the first air conditioned ship. Instead of a vessel for battle it was used as a means of luxury for the wealthy.
If we want to be that Church where not even “the gates of hell can prevail against it,” we must be that battleship. We must change our culture within the Church before we ever change the culture outside the Church. I believe where the problem lies is in the fact that we have lost our identity, and therefore our purpose. God has called us to be a missional church, with our actual mission beginning with the word- GO! However, with time we have lost our outward focus and have sadly become more and more inward focused. We have made discipleship more like a program and less of an ongoing life process. We have made discipleship similar to what the automotive industry has done with cars on the assembly line. We want to move more and more, as fast as possible- simply just to get the product out. Discipleship is not meant to be confined within a church, but is a methodology and practice that gives an opportunity to offer discipleship outside the church.
Jesus commanded His disciples to “come and follow” Him, not just come and listen. Discipleship is not an eight week course that concludes with getting the individual off the assembly line. It is doing life with people. It is an ongoing process. Discipleship is more about the journey than about a destination. We as leaders have made Christianity more about a Sunday service and not the everyday life. As a church our primary strategy is to live intentional Christianity in everyday life while engaging the culture. Things look a lot different on a cruise liner than they do on a troop carrier. Our attitudes and complete focus are different. It makes me wonder: when we look within the Church do we see a cruise liner or a battleship? Most importantly considering what God has called us for, we must become more missional and intentional. This is our mission and what we as a church should be doing. Let us not be like the U.S. Battleship that does not live out its original purpose.
I want to encourage you to fight the good fight of discipleship. It may be tiresome and with certain people it may seem as if we are “wasting” our time. However, the beautiful thing is that through this process we are the ones that are actually being molded, formed, and discipled.