Did the title of this post get your attention?
I hope so because the North American Christian Convention got my attention this week and disturbed me…in a good way.
Last January I was at a meeting in Orlando with the Publishing Committee and Editorial board of Standard Publishing when I first was challenged by Ben Cachiaras to pray the following prayer: “Dear God, disturb me.”
I prayed that prayer and that prayer was answered in my life last week.
I’ve been attending NACC’s for almost 30 years and this year’s NACC is my 2nd favorite NACCs of all time. My favorite NACC of all time was the 2006 convention in Louisville where we united with the Churches of Christ for a sweet week of fellowship, worship, teaching, and healing. My third favorite NACC was the 1995 convention in Indy at the Hoosierdome and not just because I saw Dan Marino up close as he walked through one of the hallways to a special event somewhere on the property.
I left the NACC this week disturbed by our church’s approach to discipleship. We must do a better job.
I’m the Lead Minister. I must do a better job.
I first felt convicted during Brian Jones’ message on Wednesday morning when he spoke about the “Great Omission.” Brian pointed out how we–in the Restoration Movement–are so good at two points of the “Great Commission”–going and baptizing people–but we do a poor job of teaching people once they give their lives to Christ. Brian said, “Failure to make disciples is the great omission.”
The “Great Omission.”
For me, Francis Chan’s message served as the perfect bookend to Brian’s message and confirmation to me that God wants me to do a better job making disciples at Journey. Francis also pointed out how we talk so much about the Great Commission, but do so little to actually make disciples. Early in his message Francis asked, “What percentage of your church has actually made a disciple?”
Francis said that–in his opinion–one of the most “destructive heresies in the Church today is the belief that you can be a Christian but not a disciple.” He went on to point out that we must do a better job of doing both: converting people AND making them disciples.
In his message, Brian Jones criticized how most churches measure success. He pointed out that we typically measure success by looking at the number of people in the seats on Sunday morning and the number of people we’ve baptized. He said we should be asking, “How many lives have been transformed?”
Francis Chan talked about his daughter and his desire for his daughter’s life to be transformed by God. He pointed out that his daughter’s memorization of the family rules was not evidence of transformation. Transformation is evidenced by obedience.
I stopped and asked myself, “How many lives have been transformed in the past year at Journey?”
For the past couple of months I’ve been celebrating the fact that we’ve baptized 90 people since the first of the year–with 52 being baptized in one day and that our attendance has grown by over 150 in the past 6 months, but this week I realized that we aren’t doing enough to disciple those who were baptized. We aren’t doing enough to help people to become disciples of Jesus.
Do you know what I’ve been doing? I’ve been saying, “Look how big my pile is.”
In his message on Thursday morning Francis emptied a packet of salt in his hand and then he covered those few grains of real salt with a huge pile of “fake salt” that represented salt that is completely worthless, tasteless, and purpose-less. He then asked, “Why in the world would we do this?” It ruins the good salt.
He then answered his own question. He said, “We do this so we can say, ‘See how big my pile is.'”
Jesus didn’t call us to make bigger piles of worthless salt.
He called us to lead people to Him and then make them disciples. He called us to make more good salt.
Yes, the worship at the NACC was amazing (see my post from earlier this week), the facility was excellent, the program was well-planned and engaging, and the exhibit area was as fun, food-filled, fellowship-encouraging, and as free-gift-filled as ever (Can you say back-scratchers?!?)! But, as I reflect on the 2010 NACC, the thing for which I’m most grateful is that prayer Ben asked me to pray in Orlando six months ago.
“Dear God, disturb me.”
I’ve returned to my ministry a better minister because I was disturbed last week.
Thanks Brian, Dick, Francis…and all of the other speakers I was blessed to hear last week.
Thank you Lord.
Yes, this week’s NACC was disturbing.
And, for that, I’m grateful.