The greatest problems for the church are not from secular ideologies or Atheist philosophies, or even other religions. The real problem for the church is where it has always been. It is in the midst or God’s people, not in the circumstances surrounding them. The real problem is when God’s people try to do His work in the power of the flesh rather than the power of His Spirit.
* “The word ‘disciple” occurs 269 times in the New Testament. ‘Christian’ is found 3 times and was first introduced to refer precisely to the disciples— in a situation where it was no longer possible to regard them as a sect of the Jews (Acts 11:26). The New Testament is a book about disciples, by disciples, and for disciples of Jesus Christ.” * Dallas Willard; The Spirit of the Disciplines V
* Matthew 4:18-20 (HCSB) 18 As He was walking along the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen. 19 “Follow Me,” He told them, “and I will make you fish for people!” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. * Follow Me – A disciple knows and follows Christ * I will make you – A disciple is being transformed by Christ * Fish for people – A disciple is committed to the mission of Christ * Jim Putman Real Life Discipleship
* To be a learner and a follower of Jesus Brad Waggoner, The Shape of Faith to Come, 2008 * A process of becoming Christ-like as we follow Jesus Leadership & Life Development – Florida Baptist Convention * Fully surrendered to Jesus and His agenda Hawkins & Parkinson, Move, 2011
Spiritual Formation Inventory – In 2008, Brad J. Waggoner and his research team looked at the beliefs and practices of 2,500 active, church-going Protestants from across the country, basing their analysis upon seven domains of biblical spiritual formation: 1. Learning Truth, 2. Obeying God and Denying Self, 3. Serving God and Others, 4. Sharing Christ, 5. Exercising Faith, 6. Seeking God, 7. Building Relationships.
Many self-professed Christians and churchgoers hold to beliefs and perspectives that are clearly unbiblical. And that overall the sample of churchgoers did not grow or mature over the course of a year. Brad Waggoner (Based on research for SFI) V
2004 - Greg Hawkins, exec pastor at Willow Creek, surveyed Willow Creek members to determine the effectiveness of WC’s programs — small groups, worship, service groups, etc. with regard to Willow’s Mission Statement - To turn irreligious people into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. The survey results produced what Bill Hybels calls “the wake up call of my adult life” –
REVEAL has been validated by compiling data from over 280,000 individuals in more than 1,200 churches.
Participants were classified into 4 groups based on their responses. 1. Exploring — not yet Christians, but interested. 2. Growing — new Christians beginning to grow in faith. 3. Close to Christ – faith is taken personally and practiced consistently 4. Centered in Christ – life is characterized by Christ-like sacrifice
The Results of the Reveal study showed: that after a person entered Stages 1 & 2, church programs did not help them love God or love people more. Most people seemed to stall in stage 1 or 2. 1. Exploring — not yet Christians, but interested. 2. Growing — new Christians beginning to grow in faith.
Among adults (18 or older) who claim to be Christians: * Fewer than 1 in 5 (18%) claim to be “totally committed” to investing themselves in personal spiritual development. * Just 1 in 7 (14%) say that their faith in and relationship with God is the highest priority in their lives. * Only 1 in 5 (20%) contend that the single, most important decision they have ever made was to invite Jesus Christ to forgive them and become their Savior. * Fewer than 1 in 5 (16%) believe that absolute moral truth exists and is defined by the Bible. * Slightly more than 1 in 5 (22%) stated that they live in a way which makes them completely dependent one God.
* For at least several decades the churches of the Western world have not made discipleship a condition of being a Christian. One is not required to be, or to intend to be, a disciple in order to become a Christian, and one may remain a Christian without any signs of progress toward or in discipleship. Contemporary American churches in particular do not require following Christ in his example, spirit, and teachings as a condition of membership — either for entering into or continuing in fellowship of a denomination or a local church… * …So far as the visible Christian institutions of our day are concerned, discipleship is clearly optional…. * Dallas Willard The Spirit of the Disciplines