(This was first published on 7/29/2011)
I quit. It’s hard for me to admit, but I’m so disappointed with the Christian church in America that I quit serving as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Well, I guess I didn’t really quit; I retired in June. But in a real sense I did quit. I decided that it was time to allow God to use me in a different way. I’ll continue to write for the United Methodist Publishing House. After all, I still have an “audience” there that measures in the hundreds of thousands. And I have agreed to serve as pastor of a very small country church I helped build 28 years ago. But I’m looking for a more biblical way to make disciples–followers of Jesus Christ.
That is the issue for me–making disciples. And I think it can be argued that the Christian church in American is not doing it very well. Not according to George Barna and many other social researchers. In his book Revolution Barna makes a compelling case that the lifestyles of Christians are not significantly different from the rest of society. After years of research he makes an astonishing statement: “The local church is one mechanism that can be instrumental in bringing us closer to Him and helping us to be more like Him. But as the research data clearly show, churches are not doing the job. If the local church is the hope of the world, then the world has no hope” (p. 36).
The cover of Barna’s book reads “Worn-out on church? Finding vibrant faith beyond the walls of the sanctuary.” Barna insists that there is a revolution going on among Christians inAmerica. Committed, evangelical Christians are leaving the established, traditional church in huge numbers. Why? Where are they going?
I recently ran into a former church member who has volunteered more hours at church than anyone else I know. She began to tell me about her new Christian journey. She is exploring “how to be a Christian without ‘going to church.'”
Is there a better way to make disciples? I’m beginning to think that perhaps there is. The Organic Church movement is growing exponentially. Some say that over a million Christians are now worshipping in what essentially amounts to house churches. There is a Simple Church movement that is growing around the world. All of these claim to be doing a more effective job of making Christian disciples. It certainly looks more like the pre-christendom church that the apostle Paul knew.
So, I’m off on my journey. I’ll be reporting my experiences and findings on this blog. So, if you are interested, STAY TUNED.