What kind of box do you have your life and world view packaged in? Ultimately with our systems and denominational perspectives, and ecclesiological ideas we all have boxes and labels and areas of comfort.Because of the changing world around us, I am finding myself more and more often in conversations with people who will ultimately say something like, “We need to think outside the box.” And although I am sure it is a sincere comment, I don’t find many people willing to venture very far outside the box.
While it may be quite outside of someone’s paradigm of church if they have always sung out of a hymnbook to suddenly put the words of the song on a screen projected by video or to have guitars and drums instead of an organ, those things are ultimately more cosmetic. They are matters of style and preference and probably have much less impact on Kingdom growth than we think.
Many of the church planters I have been around in the last few years would declare loudly they are innovative and “outside the box”. Unfortunately, I am afraid our system of church life in Western Culture continues to squeeze us back into boxes that focus more on church growth than Kingdom expansion.Let me quickly add, I have no real problem with churches doing all they can to be “attractional”, when we understand that we should do all we do for God’s glory. My concern, however, is that we fail to keep that in perspective with our mission.
Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all the people groups” of the world. It is important to notice in that passage (Matthew 28:18-20) that He also says, “teaching them to do all that I have commanded you.” Discipleship is not ultimately about knowing the Bible, it is about obeying the God who speaks through the Bible.
So here is an outside the box thought. What might actually happen if we stopped counting our dollars and the number of people sitting inside our buildings and we started counting what it appears that Jesus is counting, the number of disciples being made? I am guessing you may be thinking to yourself, that is not a new or radical thought. It is certainly not new, but I would differ with you over its radical nature. I do not see radical as needing to be shocking, it is just outside the parameters of reality at the time. It is what we are called to do.
So how do we make disciples? I love the acrostic that I ran across, although I honestly do not know where I first saw it; M.A.W.L. We model, assist, watch, and leave. Think about how you teach a child to brush their teeth. You show them and instruct them in what to do. Then you get behind them, reach around and take their hand with toothbrush in it and help them brush their teeth. Next you stand back and watch them, coaching as needed. Finally, you leave them to do it. The same thing is true in Christian discipleship. We model and instruct. We assist. We watch and coach, and finally leave them to do the same.
Why do I suggest actually “making disciples” is outside the box. Because things are neat and orderly in the boxes of our lives. Making disciples is messy and difficult, often extremely challenging. We have to do life outside the walls of a building. Let’s go into all the world and obey the Lord, and make disciples. Are you with me?