|by Caleb Rosen|
Churches are made up of disciples of Jesus. Disciples of Jesus follow all of Jesus' commands including the vital command to make disciples. Churches that are not filled with disciple-making disciples are dying churches.
Today, in the post-Christian West, our towns are littered with dying churches. They are comprised of people who are not expected or trained to follow Jesus. Rather, there is so much effort put into having chairs filled during a single meeting, if that occurs, the church is deemed to be a blessed success since their leaders do not expect anything more from them. Most, if not all, of the West's dying churches are comprised of warm bodies because their leaders don't expect or want anything more than a warm body.
As a man, I find this very uninspiring. Sitting in a meeting, singing songs that may or may not be understood or relevant, standing up and sitting down for no apparent reason, being asked to give "just because", listening to a speech without a connection to anything I do as a Christian is very uninspiring.
As a man, I get to know people by working with them. Yeah, I can find out a bit by having a conversation, but ultimately (and this could be a bit cynical of me) we can put up any kind of persona in a conversation. How I really find out about a person is when we are working side by side for an important mission when the pressure is on. Working together, side by side, in the most important mission in the world is inspiring.
Jesus inspires because this is exactly what he demands. We have seen how he has worked closely with his disciples in teaching and showing them what it means to "Repent. For the kingdom of heaven is near." He then sends them out in pairs with specific instructions on how to teach others what it means to "Repent. For the kingdom of heaven is near."
They return. They gather together. These disciple-making disciples meet. What must it have been like at this meeting. This meeting was like a reunion. They went out on the job that Jesus sent them out to do. Jesus expected them to do the amazing. And they did!
They report back to the Lord, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name!" I can picture these Israelites inspired to look back through the Scriptures at the acts of God their forefathers had lived through." I can see that, if they chose to sing together, that songs like we sing today like "How Great Thou Art" and "Amazing Grace" would take on a whole new meaning and purpose. Jesus, using this growth in His disciples, directs their worship, "However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
How good of a day must that have been for Jesus, knowing how limited his time was with his disciples, that he was starting to see his disciples do what he trained them to do. I can hear the excitement in his voice as he praised His Father through the Holy Spirit, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do."
They gathered together. They swapped stories. They shared with Jesus what they did. They praised God. They listened to Jesus' further instructions. They were taught the source of their power and the reason for their joy. They were encouraged. They were inspired. They were growing.
Now, that's a church meeting!