Have Churches Forgotten How to Reproduce?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by gb93433, Feb 23, 2012.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
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    Seems to be that churches must be on some powerful birth control. They are not reproducing. And I don’t get why.

    It’s natural. It’s normal. It’s essential. And we all know how to do it. But somewhere along the way, church reproduction and multiplication became unusual or strange in North America. And I am not happy about it.

    The church is the most powerful institution in the world. Where no electricity and running water exist, you will still find a church that is planting churches. When governments grow corrupt and economies crash, the church still stands and plants more churches. Nothing in the world and nothing in the last two millennia of history can compare to the church. It advances best by exponential and explosive multiplying. But not here.

    The church matters. It is God’s agent of change for the hopeless. It is how He delivers transformation to a hurting world. Through the church, God unfurls the banner of mercy and announces the kingdom of grace. He has assembled the church to tell and model the most important issue in life—how to spend all of eternity with God Himself.

    God has chosen the church to make known His multifaceted wisdom to all in authority (Eph. 3:10). Whether a power in the heavenly realm or an authority on the earth, the church is where God rolls out His message. It is used by God to speak to the weak and the strong, the poor and the rich, the hopeful and the hopeless.

    We believe in the church not only because of what we have seen, but because of what Christ can do next. He constantly amazes us at how lives are changed through the church.

    The rest of the story is at http://www.outreachmagazine.com/features/4627-have-churches-forgotten-how-to-reproduce.html
     
  2. glfredrick

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    Yes, for the most part, they have.

    Further, the congregations where reproduction is seen as something to be avoided CASTIGATE the others who are in fact reproducing.

    Further still, most churches cannot define the actual fruit of reproduction. This is allagorical in nature, but I have used an example of an apple tree often in talks to congregations and individuals concerning reproducing churches (and individuals via evangelism). "What is the purpose of the apple tree?" Most suggest to make apples, but that is not the truth. The purpose of the apple tree is to make more apple trees that make more apple trees, ad infinitim, as long as the earth remains. That the apple tree happens to make "apples" is a benefit to us, but the apples are merely appropriate containers for the sees that are there to make more trees that do likewise.

    This concept is largely ignored or unknown in most congregations and that shows in their purpose, whether stated and publicized or whether the actual purpose of the congregation -- that being, for the most part -- merely to meet again next Sunday (to pick and eat an apple) instead of to produce another worshipping/multiplying congregation that does likewise.

    I think a FAIR question is to ask:

    Has YOUR congregation ever planted a new church, and if so when was the last time?
     
  3. gb93433

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    What I find rather interesting is how many pastors I have met in recent years who planted the church they are at now when they were in their 50's.
     
  4. glfredrick

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    That is my intention as well.
     
  5. HAMel

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    Yes, way too many churches have lost their spirit.

    Most fell victim to the touchy feely virus and quit telling it like it should be told. "My" attitude entirely. Example being, if a group of gossipers have gone to the extent of causing people to leave the church..., should the Pastor get up and preach a sermon on the positives of being nice to others..., or hit the nail on the head by actually incorporating the word "GOSSIP", in said sermon?

    What is it about the "truth" we want to dance around? And why should we? If there were a child molester loose in the church action would be demanded. A gossiper with his/her vile and destructive tongue makes us think we should side step?

    ...sorry folks, but perhaps I am a bit too angry with Christians who have no backbones. I have personally fallen victim to wild and uncontrolled gossip which has caused much hardship in the administration of a Last Will and Testament of which I was appointed the Executor. An absolute travesty committed by adults considering themselves fine upstanding Christians Pillars of the community.
     
  6. gb93433

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    I did and quickly found out who he was. He came after me and with a loud voice told me what he thought of me in front of almost the entire congregation. He waited around until after the service too to confront me again. He was kind of a loose cannon in terms of self control and attitude.

    A few years later his three helpers died and they were about ten years younger than me. He finally repented to the congregation and resigned from any leadership positions he had at the time.
     
  7. gb93433

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    Sometime when you get a chance listen to the message given in the early 1950's. It is online at http://turret2.discipleshiplibrary.com/1A.mp3

    Do you see anything different then than now?
     
  8. HAMel

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    gb93433, a fabulous sermon. Thanks for sharing.
     
  9. blackbird

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    Evangelism 101

    Easy as asking fellow co worker(or any other encounter)-----"How's your relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ??"------a witnessing strategy perfected by the late Dietrich Bonhoeffer
     
  10. JonC

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    I have noticed that many churches around here actually do the opposite from starting new and independently sufficient churches. They combine into one church with satellite churches. I suppose it is efficient, one pastor gives sermons which are broadcast to the other churches. I do wonder what this does to discipleship and developing new generations of leaders. Is there a lack of people willing to start new churches (a lack of pastors)?
     
  11. glfredrick

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    Neither, but this seems to be the modern trend.

    In fact, the raising up of pastors and evangelists IS the job of the local church. We can then send those called ones off to college and seminary and train them to hone their skills, get exposed to a wider range of doctrine, history, language, and yes, theology, and then employ them in the local setting as pastors, missionaries, &c., but that is HARD WORK and many local congregations are terrified of sending out their best people because they will have nothing left once they depart!
     
  12. gb93433

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    In the past three years I have looked at church openings and the vast majority want someone who can preach and teach well for a pastor. The vast minority of them want someone who actually makes disciples for any position. A number want someone to recruit people and organize small groups and they name that as a discipleship pastor. I am guessing that the number of churches that wanted someone who makes disciples can be counted on less than two hands. Awhile back I looked at a ministry that leads local people in making disciples. It looks quite good but it was regional and required a lot of travel.
     
  13. glfredrick

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    Your research is probably not conclusive nor extensive not to mention that this is your personal ax to grind. Your assumption (as we have gone over before) is that "regular" church structure is antithetical to discipleship and that only "you" and (as you state it) "someone who makes disciples can be counted on less than two hands" are doing the right things. Whenever I find that only one or a couple persons are "right" I start to get warning flags about that one who is "right" in his own eyes. Not to say that a lot of congregations are not indeed as you imagine -- there are a lot of struggling and failing congregations after all -- but you have yet to demonstrate a true cause and effect relationship.

    I find in my own view of congregations -- as supported by PEW, LifeWay, demographics, and other agencies and ministries -- that a more typical cause than lack of discipleship is cultural issues and the age of the congregations. Ever try discipling people in walkers to "do" the work of Christ in the community? How are they going to do that, even if they are the most well-trained persons on the planet (and as you allude to "yesteryear's efforts as superior to today, these ones "should" be that!)?

    I find the lack of persons IN the local church to be a bigger issue than what we do with them once they are in the local church.

    I also find that the doctrines that are taught in the local church contribute MORE to the lack of evangelistic zeal than does the issue of discipleship, although discipleship properly done "ought" to equip the local believer for evangelistic efforts. In particular, I find the drift into this "non-cal" position that is neither Calvinism, Arminianism, nor any other readily identifiable doctrine supported by Scripture to be the primary issue in evangelistic congregations. We have "effectively" discipled a lot of American's pew sitters to think that they must be "uber-salesmen" in order to "help God to convert the heathen." Hogwash... And the sickness of the churches bear this out!

    I'll take a Spurgeon, a Sojourn, a Piper, a Warren, et al -- who hold to the Doctrines of Grace and who rightly disciple their people concerning prayer to God and God's actions in evangelistic encounters, which in turn causes people to have more confidence -- FOR GOD GOES BEFORE -- than they would in any other doctrinal system.
     
  14. JonC

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    This is true.

    I think there is a fear of becoming dogmatic, a need to appeal to everyone, and a failure to acknowledge that it is alright (and actually healthy) for Christians to disagree and dispute theological systems over denominational lines. Actually, denominational lines are quickly fading.

    Doctrine is to a great extent ignored. People believe things, but they cannot understand why they believe what they believe. What scares me is that this does not seem to bother many. They don’t want doctrine, just application – what will help them with this situation or that situation.

    My concern in discipleship is that churches should be producing pastors, leaders and ministers. If they are having to outsource this responsibility, then they are failing as a church regardless of how many they add to the church rolls. They are, in my opinion, more like parachurch organizations than churches.
     
  15. gb93433

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    An ax to grind? Don't you, or are you as passionless as a wet noodle? If nobody wants to do evangelism do you leave them alone and say nothing?

    Last Sunday I spoke at a local church on the passage Mt. 8:18-22 and told them what Jesus did and how he dealt with different people. I led into the passage by introducing the historical context of what a talmid was during that time and taught about the responsibility of the talmid and rabbi.

    If I recall right I asked you a few days ago if you had ever heard a sermon where the speaker presented what a talmid was and I never got a response.
    If you knew the history of discipleship in first century Judaism and discipleship in the early church you would find that what I am saying is not news that just came to your home today. There are numerous books written on the subject. How many did you read in seminary? My guess is that you read about as many as I did in my classes--not one. Fortunately my Greek professor introduced us to some which I did read and have read several since.

    Do you know why when Jesus chose His disciples they came immediately?

    Did you fail to read, "I am guessing that the number of churches that wanted someone who makes disciples can be counted on less than two hands" in its context?

    Why not? How many excuses are needed before you start? Is God so small that He is limited by our excuses? In Jn 3 didn't Nicodemus come to Jesus? Can a person in a walker speak or write? Is it possible God could bring people to them? Could they use a phone, email, computer, or Facebook?

    About two years I met with a lady who was discipled by another lady who lived about 800 miles away. They talked on the phone regularly.

    About 12 years ago I was pastoring a church and one of the leaders said the same thing. So I counted out homes and assigned him to 20 homes. On a Sat. I sent him out with his family and after two hours he had talked to enough people to get two Bible studies started. Shortly before the time he knocked on doors he started shaking. When he came back after two hours he was motor mouth. Today his son is the youth leader in that same church.

    If that is the case in your church then train the people by taking them with you to knock on doors and do ministry.

    If you do not disciple one person why would God ever give you two?

    While there are many methods to get people in the door they must still be taught to obey the commands in scripture and the only one I see in scripture is the command Jesus gave to make disciples. When we take a look at what a disciple is in the OT and in Judaism we find that to be taught is not like the teacher who lectures in a class. It is very different.

    In my life I have met some well known people, but the world will be reached by average people living for Jesus trusting him each step of the way.

    Sometime listen to the message at http://turret2.discipleshiplibrary.com/1A.mp3 and let us know what you think. That message was given in the early 1950's.
     
  16. gb93433

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    I agree. One of the problems I see are babies by choice and babies by a lack of leadership before them. So we have parachurch organizations filling in that gap. I have heard pastors openly express disdain for them. Then when I ask them what they are doing to make disciples the answer is usually the same.

    The answer to the problem needs to start with some action taking place. I had several discussions with a professor at the seminary where I graduated from about this issue. He told me that he did not learn how to make disciples until he read some materials from a parachurch organization. Last year I read a book written by a man who has been making disciples and has a heart to reach men. He wrote in the book that he has met leaders from seminaries who do want to be a part of making disciples. They want to just deal with academia.

    I America we tend to think of the teacher-student relationship as what is taught in a class and the student repeats what the professor said. Our Greek thinking separates each thing into a different compartment like mailboxes. The Jews did not do that. A rabbi-disciple relationship in Judaism was much different in that the disciple imitated the rabbi. The entire focus was on the disciple being prepared to be a rabbi not just a man filled with head knowledge. The disciples were taught: knowledge, tradition, and what the rabbi did and believed.

    In America we often teach that what we do follows what we learn and know intellectually. When I was in graduate school I had a professor who taught what he knew from a book but I quickly realized that he did not have any field experience. The same thing happens in too many of our churches and seminaries. Teaching in the context of first century Judaism and making disciples as Jesus did was not anything like the typical American classroom and Sunday School class. It was much more like a vocational class today where the teacher teaches head knowledge and then helps each student to apply it to accomplish quality work. Someone who is a welder knows that welding is much different than just reading about it.
     
  17. glfredrick

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    Evangelism is but one of the issues, right? I'm not trying to insult you, but discipleship is your all-in-all and your answer for every woe of the church. While it is ONE of the woes of the church, it is not THE woe.

    I thought that I responded to that post. I'll be more clear... No, I've not heard anyone speak of a "talmid" in a sermon. The reason may be other than what you insinuate, however. Why speak of something that people in the pew won't get? I DO -- OFTEN -- however speak of the fact that we are ALL to become students of the Word, and more, we are to be "devoted" in our studies and our doctrines so as to be effective in the application of those doctrines to a lost and dying world. So, while the term "talmid" isn't often used, the concept certainly is.

    You think yourself an expert in early Christian discipleship, and for the benefit of the doubt, perhaps you are! But to constantly harrange others as if they have no understanding, or to believe that no one else has studied the issue is a non-starter in a debate such as this, which is why I call you on it every time. I too have advanced seminary work, and I too have been exposed to biblical discipleship at a high level. You are not the only one.

    I am rather cutting-edge in my concepts of discipleship in the modern American church, for I disavow the techniques currently employed -- the study of some "fill-in-the-blank" book such as Experiencing God. for me, the emphasis is on GOING OUT AND DOING SOMETHING, then -- just as the disciples of Jesus -- returning with doctrinal questions that now have a need to be fulfilled.

    I am also all about "mentoring" both young and old in the ministry. I never go for very long without adding several to my mentorship roles and am currently mentoring a goodly number of men who are influential in their congregations. I expect that even my activities on this board run into the realm of mentoring, for I constantly seek to teach, return to Scripture, search for truth, and demonstrate how that works out in practical terms.

    Some of my seminary professors were also my pastors or teachers in the local church -- WHERE DISCIPLESHIP HAPPENS. Your failure to grasp that one point -- that seminary merely prepares us for knowing how to handle the Word so that WE can work it out in the local church context belies the effectiveness of your own education. Those men are radical disciplers IN THE CHURCH and awesome profs IN THE CLASSROOM. They write the books that everyone else reads.

    For two reasons... Their effectual calling by the Son of God and because when a Rabbi called one to be a "talmid" to learn the "Talmud" the honor and privelege of so doing set them apart from the rest of the community, akin to one becoming a lawyer/legislator in our society. That the called out disciples of Christ mistook HIS true reasoning for calling them out is obvious from even a cursory read of the gospel accounts. They were constantly jockying for position, for power, for authority, for "secret" or "inner" teaching, and ultimately for seats side-by-side with the King once He was crowned. Unfortunately, that pesky cross got in the way and they did indeed learn of the "cup" of their Rabbi...

    Okay for starters?

    Yup... How else could I have read it. You are making a value decision based on your view of how things are.

    Certainly, and so we teach. But what do they accomplish in the local congregation? I'm not being mean spirited here. Just facing realities in regular church USA. My oldest disciple right now is just about to turn 90. However, I am much more interested in mentoring the young man who was just radically saved from a life of drugs and abuse and who feels that God is calling him out to be a pastor. Guess who I spend more time in active discipleship with?

    As do I an elder of one congregation, a worship leader of another, a former pastor of another denomination, who is now in a nursing home ministry, and a young married man who is currently enrolled in pastor school at my former church. All are 500 miles away.

    I do... Often. Your assumptions about me are astounding based on nothing more than a few responses to your hot-button topic...

    Huh? Many would be a better word.

    So, you CAN get them in the door? :thumbs: I've always found that to be the most difficult part... And, for the record, I am a trained and successful church planter. EVERYONE who comes into one of the new churches I start has to be discipled before they can start to take an active roll in the building of the church. You are lecturing to the choir, my friend...

    Of course. All those well known people are just regular people that are well known. Take Tom Elliff, for instance. A former President of the SBC, and current President of the IMB. Before that, senior pastor at FBC Del Rey, OK for years. He is the most regular guy I know... We worked together on his doctrinal dissertation, written concerning a spiritual overhaul and discipleship for IMB missionaries. That work ended up gaining him the election to the presidency of the IMB. Tom is my "spiritual daddy" (my Paul) in the ministry. Who am I to even know more of this man than his name? Yet, I have been a part of his influential ministry to countless millions of persons all around the globe as he worked to hammer out his discipleship program for the entire International Mission Board and I worked along side him with thoughs, suggestions, biblical considerations, and the like.

    Or perhaps Ed Stetzer, currently of LifeWay Christian Resources. I was one of his early students My wofe and I transcribed his first book, "Planting New Churches in a Postmodern Age" and you can read of me in one of his books on missional church starting. I was the one he took to task for telling him that he was wrong about his methodology -- and his change of heart has driven his entire ministry in another direction. Ed is another regular guy that God has used to accomplish great things!

    I can name drop with the best of them, but I've found that all these men are just regular guys who God has called and used -- just like the original 12 disciples of Christ (save Judas, who even so had a purpose for God).

    If I have time... I post here while I do other work, but I cannot watch videos from this location. Once home, I have other responsibilities. That's what happens when one takes a bi-vocational pastorate and has to run his wheels off to earn a check so that he can minister virtually for free in some place that DESPERATELY needs him (and Christ!).
     
  18. gb93433

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    My point would be that discipleship includes evangelism. It is not a part from it. When I look at Jesus I fail to see so much separation as we see in our culture. It seems quite simple to me.

    If someone wants to be a plumber and they need training, the trainer cannot just give him a book and talk about it. He must also take him to the field and show him how it's done.

    My point was that I think we have a lot of work to do in terms of educating people on the historical background of scripture and what Jesus taught. I think if we do that then we will get a different person in the church. My belief is that we give the people too little to learn and think too low of them as though they are incapable of learning and doing. If I present discipleship in the context of first century Judaism I find that people understand it. I talk about what a talmid was and then relate it to today such as mentoring and parenting. I think the waters have been muddied too much by the same name but a completely different practice and example.

    I would not consider myself an expert but I do consider myself one who has seen the results in how God has used me.

    You have a very good point! Then how does one get people to listen if you know they are headed off a cliff or not on the right track? do you just let them go or do you grab their attention even if they do not like it?

    I went to one of the top schools in the world to get training in my profession. Every year one or two students are told to leave because they are critics instead of learners. While I was a student one of them always had a better way but his work was the poorest in class. When I saw that I was shocked! I wanted to learn all I could and even though there were times when I did not like a certain thing I did it anyway because I saw the results proven in the person who was teaching us.

    Knowing that I came from the largest seminary in the U.S. and have met others who know almost nothing about discipleship in Judaism and the early church. I cannot help but think that there are many others who were just like me who did not get it in seminary. I have had to read a lot since and it has made scripture jump off the page. So when I meet or hear someone discount discipleship I think to myself how foolish they must be.

    So the question becomes do I allow people to go on in ignorance or do I try to get their attention? Many times I try to get their attention. When they do not ask questions then I assume that I have not gotten their attention or they would like to debate.

    Isn't that what Jesus did and what discipleship is all about? So I do not understand what your disagreement is with me.

    I had much the same experience. The question is why some? Why not all? Why even let the one get away?


    Then I think you know the reality of things well. You have more than one to deal with. Some have none. I would like to bring it down to the average person and help them to make disciples. They are around people I may never know or see. It is the average person who will reach people around them. That is where I think the church should be. Everyone can do a little and all will be helped. Some may lead large groups and others may lead just one but everyone is growing.

    What I was talking about started with a many mile separation. I knew a young man who was in the hospital a lot and eventually died. My roommate was his brother and led him to Christ a few years before he died. That young man shared his faith with so many it was unbelievable. There was several thousand at the funeral. I think that while we may rationalize some things we may not know what God has in mind. Our inpout may be a short or long time. We need to somehow look at each person from God's point of view. Out of the men and women my wife and i have helped are quite a variety of people. Some are pastors and missionaries while others go to work each day. who am I to say that one is more important than another. A man from my college days wrote me and said that he has been very wrong about me. He told me that he never expected me to do anything. He told me that he saw me as focused on other things than Christ. What he did not know is what my focus truly was and my struggles.

    Years ago I got to know a young man that was born with brain damage. I have never seen a person share his faith so openly and with so much boldness. He challenges me.

    I do not see my job as getting them in the door. My job is to make disciples. If I make disciples then they eventually come. Some come faster than others. The church my wife and I were married in started with a young man and his sister. The first service had four people (two visitors who were not Christians). There were times when the pastor was made fun of because of how he trusted God. When we left the city, that church was around 1200.


    God used you because he was willing to learn and listen. Shouldn't that be the way all of us should be? Imagine if you had not said anything. Seldom is the prophet liked but he is needed. I think we have a tolerant church today that tolerates prophets but does not like them.

    Fortunately I meet with some pastors who do see the value in discipleship and want to learn more. I am encouraged about what I see now more than several years ago.
     

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