I received a call some time ago from a couple who wanted to experience church with more community and closer to their home. This couple had read one of the organic/missional church books recently and God was stirring them to make a change. This couple wanted to come and hang out at one of our house churches. I asked them to grab some coffee with me, share our stories and discover how we might be able to work together.
We set an appointment for the following week and sat down to talk. They had been followers of Jesus for more than a couple of decades and had been part of very strong church ministries and proclaimed these church as very good and strong in teaching the Bible. I listened closely and once they finished I began to ask them a few questions.
"Tell me a time," I began, "when you have spent time discipling one or two others who then followed your example and did the same thing you did with them." There was not an answer. I then asked, "Well, tell me about some other people who you have spent time with in the Word and confessed your sins together on a regular basis and also worked together in seeing people come to know Jesus." The response was they had served as church office assistants, Sunday School teachers and helped with other short term social ministries through their local churches. It was apparent that these dear people had not learned to disciple others with life on life living. Unfortunately, this is a common story.
I decided to test the waters a bit more to see how serious they were at pursuing this new direction of church. I said, "Well, I don't think the churches you have been a part of are really all that good." This caused their jaws to drop. They gave me an incorrigible look of horror. I smiled and responded, "Either those churches did not equip you to make disciples or you were not obedient to make disciples. Jesus said that everyone of His followers is responsible to make disciples as they go through life. Making disciples is not an option or reserved for the vocational leaders."
Every Christian is an Ambassador for the Kingdom of Heaven to our world. Every believer has been given the word and ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17-21). Now that is a powerful assignment for the youngest to the oldest believer, from the most seasoned to the immature and new believer. This means that every follower of Christ has the lifelong vocation of an Ambassador. The problem is that the vast majority of believers think they are still in training toward being an Ambassador when the truth is they have already been given this assignment. In fact, most believers never plan on leaving their job training program of sitting in church monthly to learn more truth that rarely gets lived out.
If every believer is a vocational Ambassador for the Kingdom of Heaven, this 'vocation' is the only one allowing workers to be in an eternal 'orientation' for the job and are never expected to produce for their employer (Jesus). After 1 year, 5 years, 10 years and even 30+ years of sitting in orientation meetings, believers can get away with never having produced a single follower of Christ. Not only this but they are lauded for their faithfulness to the orientation process (church meetings). In every other vocational arena, a person would be fired for this of lack of production. We must ask why it is allowed in the church? Could it be this is at the very core of why the church is not expanding?
If after many years of attending orientation meetings, people still don't believe they are competent to be successful ministers of the Gospel (2 Cor. 3:4-6), then those churches are not teaching people what the Bible teaches. If this is not true, these churches have no relationship with the people in the meetings to form community and mentoring so they can be producing at their vocation of being an Ambassador of heaven. This must change! You couldn't get away with this at your job!
What do you think about this topic? Why is it true that most followers of Christ are not intentionally helping others to be like Jesus? Why have churches not been successful at equipping and releasing believers in this most holy assignment of being Ambassadors of heaven? What do you think the church must do differently to get people believing this truth and out in the world as qualified Ambassadors?
Let the conversation begin!