A Disciple-Making Church

One of our primary goals at Killarney is to follow Jesus’ command to be a disciple-makers church. Disciples are people who follow Jesus.  We learn to be followers of Jesus.  Making disciples is the imperative of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20.  Jesus told his followers that as they went they were to disciple all nations.  In doing this they would baptize them and teach them to obey all of Jesus’ commands.

While many of our churches have emphasized evangelism and missions as the primary ways to fulfill the Great Commission, there has been a neglect of actual disciple-making.  While evangelism and missions are vital components of the disciple-making process; the process is incomplete without “teaching them to observe” everything that Jesus has commanded.

To be a disciple means that the individual learns what the teacher has taught and seeks to become like the teacher emulating the teacher in all of life.  Biblical discipleship requires the integration of Jesus’ teachings and the teachings of scripture with all areas of life.

Throughout the years churches, evangelists, and many other ministries have led millions and millions of people to profess faith in Christ, and yet the increase in membership and active ministry in our churches does not reflect the large number of decisions that have been recorded.

Effective discipleship not only produces active church members, but also believers with a biblical worldview—believers who are able to integrate the teachings of Christ into all aspects of life.  Christian researcher, George Barna, says,

“The research also points out that even in churches where the pastor has a biblical worldview most of the congregants do not;” and Barna continues by reporting that only 10% of adult Baptists have a biblical worldview” (The Barna Update Jan. 12, 2004 www.barna.org).

The following statistics reflect, we are not adequately discipling our young people:

  • 2002 SBC Council of Family Life reported that 88 percent of children raised in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18, never to return (Baptist Press-BP June 12, 2002).
  • George Barna also found that, “61% or today’s young adults—had been churched at one point during their teen years but they are now spiritually disengaged (i.e. not actively attending church, reading the Bible, or praying)” (The Barna Update September 11, 2006) and,

George Barna states that, “this pattern of disengagement is not merely a temporary phase in which they test the boundaries of independence, but is one that continues deeper into adulthood;” (The Barna Update September 11, 2006).

On the whole these statistics reveal that rather than being the salt and light and leading other youth to Christ, our youth are being led away from biblical Christianity.

There is a real crisis in the church today and it is due in large part to our failure to follow Jesus daily and to teach others to follow Jesus.  Making disciples requires teaching and education.  It also requires that we learn to live out the practical implications of our faith in everyday life.

Today our children and youth are being educated and discipled, but not to be followers of Christ.  They are being taught to be followers of their peers and contemporary pop culture.  Sure, we tell our children to believe in Jesus and follow Jesus.  But the day to day shapers of their minds, hearts and values come from outside scripture and the body of Christ.

In order to be effective disciple-makers we must develop strong families in which the parents take responsibility for teaching their children to be followers of Christ.  Our churches must not only reach people, but we must also teach people.  In-depth discipleship must be come the rule rather than the exception.

We must encourage and develop Christian education through all of our church’s ministries, as well as, through formal Christian education in Christian schools and through homeschooling.  We must develop ministries for the family, children and youth so that their most influential peers are other believers who are seeking to become mature and devoted Christ followers.

In an entertainment and media-driven culture this is definitely a challenge, but through Word of God and the power of the Spirit within us, we can lead our generation and the one that follows to become disciples of Christ.