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Are we still making

Disciples?

Pushing the Church Beyond Membership and Sunday Morning Worship



Rev. Kelly R. Jackson



Are We Still Making Disciples?

Pushing the Church Beyond Membership

and Sunday Morning Worship



Copyright © 2016 by Kelly R. Jackson

Smashwords Edition

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

ISBN: 9780463968840

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And He saith unto them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”. – Matthew 4:19





Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Chapter 1 Your mission, should you choose to accept it


  • The Call

  • The Training

  • The Purpose

  • The Goal

Chapter 2 Church: What is it good for?

  • What is the church?

  • Who’s in church?

  • Who’s at church?

Chapter 3 Monday morning discipleship: What happens after the shout?

  • Could anyone follow you to church on Monday morning?

  • Do you have a full time anointing?

  • The call of salt and light

  • How loud is your silent witness?


Chapter 4 Blurred lines: Has conformation conquered transformation?

  • Are we still aiming to be set apart?

  • Does anything go in the church of today?

  • Think outside the box, but not outside The Bible

  • Have we counted up the cost of discipleship?


Chapter 5 Full pews, empty hearts: Has the new “church culture” shifted the atmosphere?

  • The place to be: Has church become a destination?

  • The building is full, but the church is empty

  • Have we lost the fellowship?

  • Are we more in love with the idea of church?


Chapter 6 Send them out!

  • We must remember the mission

  • What have you added to The Kingdom?

  • Are we prepared for battle?

A Final Word

About the author



Acknowledgments

First and foremost, I would like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for saving my life on Calvary’s cross and for being with me throughout this journey. What would I do without your Spirit residing in me? I am truly nothing without You, but through You, I have accomplished my dreams with more on the horizon. I bless your name for giving me the strength to endure all that I’ve faced these last few years. I love You Lord!

Thank you to my beautiful and supportive wife, Angela. Nobody but God knows why we do what we do, but we do it all for The Kingdom. I thank you for your undying support and your understanding of why I have to do what I do. You love when I need love, you feed me when I’m hungry, care for me when I’m sick, and most of all, when I feel discouraged, you encourage! Thank you for going with me and growing with me. We have much to accomplish and I’m glad you’re in this with me. I love you babe!

To my sons Steffen and Kilen, thank you for loving me. I’m doing all that I can to be a dad you can be proud of. I hope it’s working and if it’s all good, I hope it’s rubbing off on you. Dad loves you.

To my mom, Annie Jackson-Loritts, I love you immensely. I’m amazed that after all of these years, you’re still standing in gaps for me. Not just because I’ll always be your baby boy,

but most importantly, because you believe in what I’m doing. I know it wasn’t easy to understand at first, but once you saw what God had already shown me, you stood by me and you haven’t left yet. I love you mom!

To my family and friends, thank you for your prayers and your support!

A special thank you to two special friends, Kevin and Neefesha Marion. Let me stress why I singled out you two: You were the first to call me your pastor (thanks for the pressure). You entrusted me to counsel you, marry you, and you have traveled great distances just to hear me preach or to support the various endeavors of both me and my wife. On occasion, you have been known to slip a little something extra to the radio broadcast. You’ve purchased books, bought books for others, and have encouraged people to buy books. You were constantly and consistently at any Bible class I was teaching or Sunday school series. I could keep going, but we have a book to get to. Just know that you are appreciated and I thank you.

To Pastor Damon M. Moseley, I can’t thank you enough! You’ve been a brother, a friend, a confidant, an advisor, and now my pastor. Thank you for embracing me, encouraging me, supporting me, and endorsing me. I tell you often, but it must be said in print, what you do for me doesn’t go unnoticed. I love you and I appreciate you! Also, to First Lady Dominique, thank you for your love and kindness, and thank you for sharing pastor with me, Angela, and Kilen. We love you!

To my new church family, Bethel Temple Missionary Baptist Church, I love you and I appreciate you for so warmly receiving me and my family. Also, I thank you for supporting my various ministry endeavors.

To those that I’m still connected to at my former church home, Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church, thank you for your continued love and support. We still love you!

Lastly, to all of my brothers in the ministry that are too numerous to name, I thank you for your love and support of my written ministry, as well as those that have supported the radio broadcast over the years. Most of all, I thank you for your friendship and encouragement as I transitioned from one place of ministry to the next. It’s good to know that I have you all on my side as co-laborers in Christ.



Kelly

Introduction



We’re at a critical time in the church today. I know it may not seem like it, as churches seems to be more popular than ever. Some of them are massive these days, boasting congregations in the thousands. Services are streamed all over the place, and ministers like myself are publishing books all the time.

There are television and radio ministries, and some ministries even own television studios outright. Titles are going around like the flu, so much so, that it will actually make your head swirl. With all of this going on, my opening statement may seem odd. If you look at all of the “success” that it seems that the church is having these days, how then can I make the statement that the church is in critical condition? Well, let me explain.

There are a lot of things that the church is doing today that they’ve never done before. However, that statement is a double-edged sword. We’re doing more than we used to do, but are we still doing what we’re supposed to do? We’ve added some programs and some ministries, but have we eliminated what we are actually called to do in the process? We’ve added some style to what we do, but have we eliminated substance in the process?

In this day and age of the new church and the new “church culture”, we must ask ourselves what our impact is these days. I know we’re feeding folks at the church now, but are we helping folks? I know we’re clothing folks now, but are we addressing their spiritual deficiencies? I know we’re giving away school supplies, and believe me, all of this is great and I’ve been a part of it all. But are we supplying people with a transforming word for their lives? Are we still making disciples?

At this time in the church’s history, we’re able to have a global impact right from our sanctuaries. We don’t ever have to leave home to impact people that are thousands of miles from us. But as it is with anything else, with great power comes great responsibility. We’ve gone from having a microphone to having a megaphone. So, what do we have to say for Christ? Who are we transforming for Christ? Are we more concerned with people joining us or the Body of Christ?

As we journey through these pages, we’ll discuss the true call of the church: Make disciples! All of the things we’ve added to our call may be helpful, and even necessary at times, but they’re not always expedient as it relates to discipleship. What I mean is no matter what we do, first and foremost, we should always do what we’re called to do. A common theme that you will see throughout this book is, if it’s not pointing people to discipleship, we shouldn’t be doing it.

What we’ll also be looking at in great detail is how we can move people from membership to discipleship. As other programs and ministries come into the church, people often feel that because they’re a part of these things, they’re disciples.

However, our serving in a certain capacity at church doesn’t necessarily mean we’re actually students and followers of Christ. This must be addressed in the church. That’s not to suggest that people can’t serve when they haven’t been fully converted, but it is to suggest that we teach the truth of discipleship so that our congregations aren’t disillusioned.

What we want to convey in this work is that discipleship goes far beyond Sunday morning service. It is love and care for your fellow man, especially those that are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10). It is seeking unity among the believers. It’s having a go out ministry as well as an outreach ministry. It is having a relationship with Christ that transforms and changes your life in such a way that you not only become a vocal witness for Him, but a living witness for Him as well. It’s not just a Sunday morning gig. It’s a 24 hours a day, 7 day a week call on your life.

However, the challenge in this book isn’t just for the pew only. Many of our churches have lost their focus on discipleship because the pulpit has. In our quest to grow our congregations in size, we’ve lost the focus of growing them in quality. We’ve lost sight of the fact that more people doesn’t necessarily mean more help. Sometimes, more people are more of a burden to the true church because the vast majority of the true ministry work of the church is still done by about 20% of the congregation. So adding more people without educating them in discipleship and the call of the church can sometimes mean just adding more people for you to carry.

Another issue plaguing the pulpit is the content of the message. The wages of sin isn’t preached as often as it should be. The cost of discipleship isn’t explained as much as it should be. A call to holy living before we approach a holy God about miracles and blessings isn’t stressed enough.

When we consider who were called Disciples of Christ and all that they endured as the called, we know that it went far beyond your name on the membership roll, making sure you took communion, or being sure that you were on your post when it was your Sunday to serve. It went far beyond being able to quote Scripture or sing your favorite praise and worship song. The call to discipleship is a call on your life!

It’s not always glamourous, it’s not always easy, and it’s filled with trials, tribulations, judgment, falling short and having to get back up, and much of what you do goes unrewarded and unappreciated by man. It has financial hardships, sickness, family problems, marriage problems, and definitely church dysfunction. What I’m saying is, being a disciple, or even just a church member, doesn’t make you exempt from trouble, and that still needs to be taught in the church. But we must remember that Jesus knows all about our struggles, and what you do for Christ will last.

We can’t be afraid to tell people that being a disciple of Jesus isn’t easy. What we must do is stress to them that a life without Christ is much worse, and there is no reward in the end. The truth is, when you love somebody, you’re willing to endure a little pain to be with them. I believe that the people of the church still love Jesus. They just need to be told the truth about what they’ve signed up for.

With this book, I hope to refocus the church on what Jesus told us to do above all: Make disciples. It is not my goal to stop any ministries or stop any pastors from doing what they do in their congregations, not that I could anyway. My goal is to point out some deficiencies in our execution of The Great Commission, while encouraging those that are still holding fast to the principles of that Commission.

This isn’t some great “how to” book, but rather, it’s a book that looks to the Scriptures and reminds us of our foundation. Discipleship doesn’t need to be reinvented because to do that suggests that there’s something wrong with what Jesus said, and there’s no error in His instructions. New methods? Sure. Same Bible? Absolutely!

I also realize that because there’s no title in front of my name other than “Rev”, much of what I say may be ignored by some that do have titles. However, my job is to speak the truth according to the Word of God, and sometimes that’s a call to speak truth to power. When something needs to be said and we have the knowledge, capacity, and platform to say it, then we are obligated to do so. To ignore this call on my life because someone may not want to hear it would be a disrespect to my God who gave me the voice.

Again, church is more popular than ever these days, but it’s also more polarizing. While there was a time when people had great reverence for the church, they now have disdain for the church. They see the church as an organization, and not an organism. They see us as a people that are selling false hope to the hopeless, while taking financial advantage of them at the same time.

As preachers and pastors have become multimillionaires, the world has questioned the validity of religion itself. In the meantime, the church has found itself more in the position of defending itself, rather than examining itself. We’re on the defensive, telling people that they’ve got it wrong, without really asking ourselves, “Are they really wrong about us?”

“I joined the church today” has become a vague statement. For someone to say that now, there’s no telling what they’ve joined. Did they join the building, the congregation, a particular ministry, what they see as a social club, or did they actually join the Body of Christ? Does a person that “joins the church” today really understand what they’ve signed up for?

My prayer is that we as the true church will get back to what it is that we’re called to do. It’s much more than a Sunday morning shout or quoting Bible verses that we barely understand because we’ve shunned the pastor’s pleas for us to get to Bible class.

It’s much more than the positions and control that we fight for in a place that doesn’t even belong to us. It goes beyond our questioning of God on every turn like those wandering Israelites when they didn’t understand what God was doing. We need to get back to changing lives. Not just for the show on Sunday morning, but for the rest of our days. We need to get back to making disciples.



Rev. Kelly R. Jackson





Chapter 1

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Train them up!



In giving The Great Commission to His disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), Jesus establishes the purpose of the church. It’s not to make larger buildings, it’s not to establish the best praise team in town, and it’s not to show off the best sermons that we possibly can. While people can fulfill their individual purposes in participating in these activities and ministries, the church itself has one purpose: Make disciples.

That’s it. This is the call of the church, and it should be our function and our mission. This goal can be accomplished through various methods, but the end result must be singular. If we aren’t making disciples, we should question why we’re opening the doors each weekend.

The dictionary gives the definition of “commission” as:

  • The act of committing or giving a charge

  • Direction

  • Authority granted for a particular action or function

When we break the word down further, we see the word “mission”, which is given as:

  • An important duty that is assigned for a specific purpose

Both the words “commission” and “mission” describe what Jesus was charging His disciples with. The Commission is the authority and the mission is the actual assignment attached to the authority given. In essence, the authority is of no effect if the mission isn’t carried out. It’s not enough to have the authority if there will be no action behind it.

An operative word in The Great Commission is “go”. We have been commissioned to go on a mission. We have been given the authority by Jesus Christ to go out into the world to reach, baptize, and teach. However, many churches have fallen in love with the authority of The Commission, but not necessarily the action of The Commission. We’re failing to realize that both The Commission and the mission go hand in hand, and to do one without the other is to fall short.

There are four components that we will discuss in this chapter as it relates to discipleship, evangelism, and the mission that comes with it: The call to it, the training for it, the purpose of it, and the ultimate goal of it.

The Call

God never does anything just because, so there is a call on every person’s life. No one is insignificant. Therefore, if you’re still here, God has a plan to use you in some way. Whether you were sent here to impact the masses or just those around you, as long as there is breath in your body, there is purpose in your path. So when we feel that call within our spirit, we simply need to answer. But whatever that call is on your life, it should ultimately lead to true discipleship.

A common issue in Christianity is confusing church membership with discipleship. Many believe that to be a disciple, you simply must be a member of a local congregation. This even causes confusion in the world as many people believe that because someone is a member of a church, they are therefore a true follower of Christ. However, that isn’t always the case.

The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary describes a disciple as: “a learner”, and “one who professes to have learned certain principles from another and maintains them on that other’s authority”. In the context of Christianity, this applies to our relationship with Jesus Christ.

While it would seem natural to attribute the title of disciple to members of any Christian congregation, we must understand that there are many people in the church that love Jesus, but just because you love someone, that doesn’t necessarily make you a follower of their principles. Therefore, the Christian must understand that it’s not enough to love Jesus. The truth of discipleship is in following Jesus and His commands (John 14:15).

This Great Commission that the true disciple is under initially comes with a call. We are called out of the world to become learners, followers, and eventually agents for Jesus (Matthew 10:1-15, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 9:1-5). Jesus’ disciples were called from all walks of life. Peter, James, and John were fishermen. Brothers James and John (the “sons of thunder”) came from a prosperous family and they were fiery and passionate. Matthew was a tax collector (a publican). He was despised in the community and considered a common sinner (see Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the Publican in Luke 18:9-14).

Even Judas, who was the black sheep and would eventually betray Jesus, was chosen and at least given an opportunity. So this means, wherever you are in life, God will call you, and if you make yourself available, He will use you.

As diverse and as different as each disciple was, they all had a purpose. All of the gifts and talents that God has given each of us are to be used for the purposes of Kingdom building. So, no matter what God has given you to do with your mind or your body, it was meant to grow the true church and to give Him glory. Romans 8:28 says that we are “called according to His purpose”. Not our own purposes, but God’s.

This is the beauty of the call to discipleship. While many of us believe that there’s some sort of drastic change that has to take place in the things we’re capable of doing, the truth is many of us are already doing what we’re called to do. We just need to point those gifts, talents, and abilities into godly directions and use them for godly purposes. God never took Saul’s (Paul) passion away. He simply turned it around and used it for Kingdom building (Acts 9:1-16). He went from being Saul, the tent making Christ persecutor, to Paul, the church planting Christ promoter.

As a church, we should have the same approach that Jesus had as we’re looking to add souls. We shouldn’t try and place people where we want them to be. We should try and find out where God has called them to be. There’s a vast difference between man’s appointing and God’s anointing. Therefore, we must be led of the Spirit.

James 1:17 tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from above, so if we’re dealing with gifted individuals, we should be seeking The One that gave the gifts for guidance on how to implement the gifts. Many are walking in their calling, but they’re walking outside of God. Once they come inside, we shouldn’t try and change God’s direction for their lives.

The Training

Let’s start this section by stating that any potential disciple that refuses any type of Bible class is unfit to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember, a disciple of Christ is one that learns the principles of Christ, and maintains them on His authority. How can we truly and effectively spread that which we don’t know and understand? How can we operate on the authority of Jesus Christ without clear knowledge of who He is, why He has authority to impart to us, and a strong faith in what He’s done for our salvation?

In most churches, Bible class is the least attended service of all. This is true across denominational lines. People love Sunday morning, but they struggle to get to that midweek training that is Bible class (we’ll discuss that in detail in a later chapter).

It’s still true that Bible class and Sunday school (if your church still has it) are the best training grounds for disciples. When you’re digging in The Word, having question and answer periods, and simply encouraging one another in study, you’re not only growing in your personal faith, but you’re being equipped to pour into others.

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy Word is truth.” – John 17:17 (KJV)

Bible class is where the making of disciples truly begins. It’s where our consecration for God’s service takes place. Confession is great, that’s where you’re saved (Romans 10:9-13). Church membership is good, no matter how much we wanna stay home and watch online and on TV (Hebrews 10:24-25). Operating in your gifts and talents on Sunday morning is awesome and encouraged (Psalms 150). But discipleship is found in studying, adhering to, and spreading God’s Word. That’s the foundation. All of those other things I mentioned are just components.

The reason many of us struggle in the training aspects of discipleship is because we sometimes believe, as the world does, that talent alone will take you where you need to be. Understand that there is a difference between talents and anointed gifts within the body of Christ, just as there is in our ability to function in a worldly occupation versus a church ministry. Spiritual discernment must be the order of the day.


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