It is natural for us to follow the path of spiritual industrialization. We only have so much time and energy, so we want to be a part of a church with a clear vision, innovation, recognizable brand, and a defined path. Since Jesus told us to make disciples, it stands to reason we would want to be in a place where they are being churned out in masses and the kingdom is growing exponentially.
I have witnessed the opposite. There are churches with no vision and no plan for making disciples. This doesn’t necessarily mean the people in them lack a sincere love for Christ and His mission, and sometimes a catalytic event or person can provide the spark to get things moving again.
It is neither right nor wrong to seek either of these soils as the place to invest our lives. But whether we are a part of something dynamic or choose to grind out our faith in a setting where we must constantly kindle the most basic passion for Christ’s commission, the question of what we are producing still comes back to us.
The desire to reflect “100% Jesus” is to stand apart from and at times transcend our environment. Whether we are surrounded by highly creative and committed believers, plugging along with those who have grown complacent in their mission, or pouring our lives out to the “least of these” in the shadows of urban decay or a third world country, the first and most important question we must ask is whether or not the Jesus they see is the Jesus of the Bible. It is a given we will never reflect Him perfectly, but at least we can represent Him accurately. It is alright to tell the world, “This is not who I am yet, but it is what I hope to be. It is also what I want to share with you.”
Once we take responsibility for our own reflection of Jesus, it dawns on us (if it hasn’t already) we are actively making disciples everywhere we go. Whether we are a part of a clearly defined, visionary path in a growing church, an instigator in a floundering ministry or an ambassador in the bellows of abject poverty, our responsibility to the mission is greater than a single focus. What about our homes, our workplaces, and our own neighborhoods? How do we view the cashier who rings up our morning caffeine? When our doctor walks into the examination room are we only concerned about whether or not he will make us well, or do we wonder whether or not he is well in his soul?
Please understand we all need a structure or program as a context for making disciples. If we deny this reality we are deceiving ourselves. Even those who say they just want to “go with the flow” or “let the Spirit lead them” had declared a methodology. Industrialized Christians get with the program. Initiators tell others to get with the program. Ambassadors take the program to those who need it. But in all of this, the key is not the program, but the Person. Do they see Jesus? And which Jesus do they see?