Over the last few months I have been consulting a church plant that I will eventually be a part of the planting team. It has brought to the surface a lot of questions that I have been asking for a while, but not interacted formally with. Yesterday I was in a conversation with a fellow about a few different things as it relates to Christianity and where it is headed in the western world. Among those different topics the church specifically came up at the end of the conversation. It was in this conversation that I had heard something articulated very clearly, which I believed to be true about those leading the church today but had not really heard anyone admit to it. The identification of a “preaching problem.” The problem with what was said is that we don’t have a preaching problem at all we have a discipleship problem. Our struggle in the West stems from multiplication by attraction–the problem with this is that as easily as we can attract people to our services and building, they can be attracted else where.
There seems to be this overwhelming thought that if we just preach better, or if we just preach the right stuff then that will fix everything. I am not sure this really will fix a lot, if anything. When I examine the Gospel accounts in the scriptures I see more time spent on the description of Jesus discipling the Apostles to go out and make disciples, I don’t see Him spending as much time on their preaching style or even content. By this I mean he discipled them as to not allow for question of content, He discipled them to interact with the world in such a way that they could gain trust and influence to shift a people from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of heaven, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Today we spend so much time on training “pastors” to be great preachers that we neglect training them to be good disciplers, so that they can accomplish one of their main goals equipping the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4.12).
The problem in the west is not a preaching problem it is a discipleship problem. Many Christians in the West today do not have a good foundation that they can interact with the world well. They struggle when they read something that might be doctrinally shaky, they act as though every word that comes from their “pastors” mouth are Jesus’ words rather than being able to rightly discern for themselves the scriptures. I as “pastors” we spent as much time teaching the people whom God has entrusted us with to do these things then I believe that Christianity in the West would look drastically different. In fact Western Christianity might even spawn into a movement once again, of which the Holy Spirit is using the citizens of the Kingdom of God in such a way that the kingdom would grow exponentially.