Last week, I found out that we have four people interested in being a part of our first simple church here in Greenville. The backgrounds of each person got me thinking…
Let me start this post by saying this: every follower of Jesus Christ must be a disciple (many who claim to be are not) and a discipler (again, many are not). This series, however, is focused on discipling people who will be part of a new, sprouting church.
First, unchurched and dechurched people are good soil for discipling with a view toward a new church sprouting. Unchurched people are those who’ve rarely been to church in the past–maybe for a funeral or a wedding, or Christmas and Easter… and some, not even that. They are totally unfamiliar with church culture. Dechurched people are those who used to go to church in the past, but at some point unplugged themselves from church for reasons other than a falling out with the leadership or a doctrinal dispute (they went to church as a kid, but as soon as they left their parents’ house, they quit going to church). Most dechurched people have memories of church culture, but not so much that it will trip them up when it comes to a particular model of church.
Unchurched and dechurched people certainly have baggage–and almost all of it is lifestyle baggage. They’re not going to get all heated up over a doctrinal dispute or what style of music your church uses or if you meet in a house, a movie theater, or a church building. Those who are willing to try church are usually open to Jesus, and thus make good soil for discipling… and great people from which a new church will sprout. Will you have to deal with their lifestyle garbage? Absolutely. But it sure beats a churched person wanting to take up vast amounts of your time to debate you on why you do the Lord’s Supper in one particular way over another.
Second, Christians who get it make good soil for discipling. Sadly, I’m finding that Christians who get it are a rare breed. But they certainly do exist. Christians who get it don’t get hung up on the model of church or traditions of a local church or minor doctrinal disputes that aren’t essential to a person’s salvation. All they care about is Jesus and His kingdom, and seeing those outside the kingdom become citizens of the kingdom and agents of the king. They are humble, teachable, and thus great soil for discipling… and are a long way toward becoming disciplers.
Last, many churched people aren’t good soil… yet. Many have weeds and rocks that need to be picked in order to be good soil. Part of leadership’s job is to help with this process, and encouraging and equipping people to do this themselves. I think many people who aren’t good soil want to be. We need to find them, spend time with them, invest in them, and disciple them. Are there some in our churches that will never make good soil? Yes, unfortunately. But let’s not let them deture us from helping others become mature, radical followers of Jesus.
Because the fields are white unto harvest, and the laborers are few.