Monday, October 20, 2014

Converts or Disciples?

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit  Matt 28:19

We learn from ACTS that the early church met in homes. Their relationships were intimate and personal. They ate together and shared their lives together. I imagine those among them with the gift of music helped lead worship, and those among them with the gift of teaching, gave the morning word, and those with the gift of service, served.... those with the gift of healing, healed, prophets prophesied.. etc.  The thing was, you couldn't be anonymous in their meetings. Everyone knew you and you knew everyone and everyone participated. So, if you were struggling with a problem, trial, or even a sin, there were people who were more mature in the faith all around to help you. They "discipled" you .   They taught you what they learned from the Scriptures and from walking with the Lord for years. That's how the younger Christians were able to grow in the faith. They were one-on-one discipled by people close to them.

That's what a disciple was in Jesus's day. Most Rabbis had disciples, men who forsook their careers, their families and followed a certain Teacher. When I say followed, I don't just mean their teaching. I mean they literally followed the Rabbi around. They ate, slept, studied and spent all their time with this Rabbi, learning from him, learning how to be like him.

Sometime after Rome became Christianized, believers started meeting in the old pagan temples once used to worship the gods of Rome and other demonic deities. Slowly the home church where people were discipled one-on-one evaporated in favor of mass meetings in church buildings where believers became more spectators than participators. The Christian church even adopted the idea of rituals and ceremonies from the pagan religions they replaced and throughout the centuries that has morphed into our modern-day churches.

The problem is that in this auditorium-style non-participating church environment, disciples have been replaced by converts. Churches measure their success on how many new converts they have each month and give no thought to what it means to actually disciple someone. Sure, there are after church programs and special classes and even small groups that people can attend, but even those can often times be very impersonal.  Plus they are not mandatory. That's why it's so easy for someone who is weak in the faith and engaging in some kind of sinful activity during the week to be able to hide in church.

But Jesus clearly said Go make disciples, not Go make Converts. But what is the difference?

A convert is someone who calls themselves a Christian and who has received Jesus's sacrifice for their sins. If they go no further than that, they remain just a convert. Are they still saved? That's between them and God.

Here's what Jesus says of a disciple
If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.....So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.  Luke 14

And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me  Matt 10:38

Discipleship is the same as it was in Jesus's day. It's a call to give up everything for your Rabbi. It's a call to put Him above everything in our lives. It's a call to follow Him and learn how to be just like Him. 

Yet how many churches today actually do that? How many raise converts and not disciples? And shouldn't we be about the business of doing exactly what Jesus commanded? 

When is the church going to wake up? I'm sensing God is asking us this. We are running out of time, and there are so many people still in the darkness.



  1. Mon 20th,
    "Morning, MaryLu."
    Amen, and, Amen ... to all that you shared ! Thank-you for bringing this into light for us. You are bang on. I could totally identify with "hiding in Church" .... meaning -- that when I first began attending the Church I'm in (some 20 years ago now), it was so large, and so new to me, that I was actually able to 'hide out' in the back pews. I was probably more of an observer, at the beginning. People were friendly, but no one bothered me, and I was able to sit back, and watch. It's easy to get lost in a large group of people. I didn't want to be 'discovered', until I was ready to be acknowledged.
    Being a disciple is a much taller order, more is expected of you ... that's for sure.
    Anyway, you hit the nail-on-the-head ! Thanks so much for sharing.
    Take care, and, God Bless, In Him, Brenda

  2. Words of wisdom, my dear, words of wisdom. I totally agree with what you wrote....I have attended too many churches like that and "hid" as well. It wasn't until I was called to be a Sunday School teacher, that I realized that I needed to do more than just sit there and listen....and now, MANY years later, I am able to listen and learn once again. It is all about God's timing.

  3. A marvelous Monday to you, MaryLu!! Thank you for another soul-searching post!!

    You are SO right - I think so few people are truly as zealous about God as He commands, it sometimes is intimidating for one to be so - for fear of being labeled a "religious freak". Yet, I feel that is what is necessary and what He wants - fear of labels never stopped Him, are we any less worthy of them?? Yes - time is short and there are many to reach, we can NOT be complacent.

    Thank you for the reminder and another opportunity for improvement as one of His disciples!!

    Love, hugs, and prayers - my "sister"!!

    Shared post!!

  4. Thanks my precious friends... I'm not sure why God leads me to write such oftentimes hard messages... but it seems my lot. I'll try and be more encouraging next time. :-) Love and hugs!!!

    1. You never know how great an audience your posts eventually reach, MaryLu, even if not reflected by comments left!! Your posts are needed or you wouldn't be lead to write them, dear MaryLu!! Thank you!!

  5. Boom. This nails *exactly* what I've been learning of late, especially since reading a book by Wayne Jacobsen called "So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore". This is why I - and so many other people - often feel like an outsider at church; excluded and alone. I would love to see people within the church begin to open their eyes and reach out to their brothers and sisters that sit in the same building with them week after week. But in saying that, the challenge is really up to us: are *we* willing to open our eyes and reach out to people in that way? The change begins with you and I. I pray we rise to the challenge.

  6. Let's pray that happens Jasmine! I know so many young people 20s and 30s who refuse to go to church. Many are finding fellowship in home groups.. where people know and care about each other. Maybe this is the trend. Thanks for coming by!