In a Neue article no longer online, entitled "Full Disciple," Scot McKnight answers an important question that I believe every church must answer for themselves:
“What kind of disciple is your church designed to produce?”
This question is so important, that we embed it into the Vision Frame which carries five irreducible questions of clarity. Until a church answers this for themselves they are, as McKnight skillfully articulates, “aiming at nothing.”
Harry Caray, the late and much loved Chicago Cubs announcer. Used to quip that on a given day the Cubs got what they aimed at: nothing. The same is often true for churches when it comes to discipleship. It might sound unduly harsh, but many churches embody a kind of discipleship they are (sadly) aiming at: nothing.
They've got all the right programs, and they've got a preacher who can preach the congregation's socks off, and they've got a band that rocks the house, but the average Christian leaves a week-to-week routine of attendance to live a week-to-week routine of ... going on with what they go on with.
The church runs well, the money comes in, the money goes out, but discipleship doesn't happen unless it's intentional and personal and concrete and developmental and adjustable. But this takes careful planning-like weeks working on a mission statement and set of outcomes, exploring how those outcomes can be achieved, working with people to achieve those outcomes at a personal level, and then assessing both the people and the outcomes to see what needs to be done next. It is far easier to gather, sing songs, preach and go home.
You get what you aim at.
So what does McKnight suggest for his definition? He urges for seven dimensions of Kingdom Holiness:
- Kingdom Understanding: A disciple is someone caught up in Jesus’ Kingdom.
- Kingdom Dreaming: A disciple is someone who is lost in the Kingdom dream of Jesus.
- Love: A disciple is someone who loves God and loves others with everything they’ve got.
- Justice: A disciple is someone who is radically committed to doing what Jesus teaches and working toward conditions that reflect those teachings.
- Peace: A disciple is someone who is at peace and works toward peace.
- Wisdom: A disciple is someone who is wise and seeks wisdom.
- Church: A disciple is someone who lives out his or her calling in the context of a local church.
Has your church gone through the process yet to articulate the measure of its mission?