A wise man once said, “Everybody wants to catch fish, but nobody wants to clean them.” There’s truth in that statement, at least when it comes to discipleship in American churches.
We’re “fishers of men” and enthusiastic about winning people to Christ, but too often weak at discipleship, whether it’s in our own walk with Jesus, or in guiding others who’ve just come to the faith.
The theologian John Stott wrote in his book Basic Christianity,
The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict half-built towers. The ruins of those who began to build and we’re unable to finish…. The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so called nominal Christianity.
Our calling at David C Cook is to go to the outermost ends of the earth to help local churches both catch and clean. We accomplish this by equipping in-country believers to develop leaders, provide soul care for orphans and other at-risk kids, and to spread the Good News among youth in compelling ways. Our goal is to create disciples with a depth of passion, commitment and faith that transcend shallow Christianity.
Our ministry finds instruction in the greatest of all scriptures on world evangelism, Matthew 28:19, where Jesus commands us to
go and make disciples of all nations …
The Lord is intentional in using the word “disciple.” A disciple is not an individual who’s experienced a one-time act or prayer – it’s an ongoing relationship with others and with Jesus where we are gradually, permanently and eternally changed into the image of our Creator.
Christianity is exploding in Asia and Africa – millions are being impacted by the love of Christ for the first time – and we’re privileged to be in the thick of it as both evangelists and disciple makers.
The name “disciple” challenges all of us on staff at David C Cook to take our own spiritual inventory. In other words, are we encouraging others to dig deep when our relationship with God is slipping toward shallowness, performance or rote spiritual exercises? We must be disciples ourselves if we hope to make disciples. As Stott put it:
“The pew cannot easily rise higher than the pulpit; the pew is usually a reflection of the pulpit.”
If we’re to be a force in the rest of the world, we need to be strong, authentic disciples, and servant leaders, intent on raising-up others to lead. And we need to be in community with one another.
Here are three areas of growth we’re looking at as a team.
- Are we having regular, two-way conversations with God? Or do we only approach him when something challenges us or fills us with joy? It’s the ordinary, habitual and continual conversation with God that makes our relationship with Jesus rich and personal.
- Are we self-feeding? Are we getting to know the character of God and building our relationship with him through revelation found in his Word?
Several years ago The Barna Group came out with some disturbing statistics. They said:
“American Christians are biblically illiterate. Although most of them contend the Bible contains truth and is worth knowing, most of them argue they know all of the truths and principles, our research shows otherwise. And the trend line is frightening: the younger a person is, the less they understand about the Christian faith.”
And a recent survey by LifeWay Research concluded that
…among American Bible readers, owning multiple Bibles is much more prevalent than regularly investing time in reading it.
- Are we allowing God to prepare the soil in our lives? The parable of soils in Mark 4 speaks to us. Are we giving him free reign to bust up the hard spots, the sin?
Soil has to be tilled and fertilized and the weeds must be pulled up. Are we opening ourselves up to God and asking him to show us areas of sin? Are we allowing God to use trusted friends to disciple us by hearing and heading their words and sharing our lives in community?
It’s a privilege to be involved in ministry, but we also realize that truly effective, lasting ministry begins in our own hearts.