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Self identifying as a Bishop of an independent Christian church, one might presume that I peruse many Christian periodicals and online sources related to Christian news, inspiration, and philosophy and one would be correct in that presumption as I am guilty as charged. However it would be a mistake to assume that all who identify as Christian also avail themselves of the many opportunities for continuing Christian education that are available online as well as at local retail establishments. Sadly it has become apparent—as heralded by many Christian writers—that our various Christian churches, primarily Protestant churches, have grossly failed to teach the basics of Christian thought, philosophy, and tradition.

This general complaint—that of failure to do what some refer to as to disciple newly made Christians—was recently again lamented by Joseph Yo in an editorial at ministry matters.com [1] in which Mr. Yo wrote:

It’s no secret that our culture is becoming increasingly “secular.” What’s frustrating is that a lot of our churches still operate with the assumption that everyone knows about the church. And when we meet people that don’t know the Lord’s Prayer, instead of trying to teach them, we become more outraged at the secularity of our culture.

If you make disciples you will always get the church but if you try to build the church you will rarely get disciples. [2]

The aforementioned adage is well illustrated by Dr. Richard J. Krejcir in an article at churchleadership.org titled; Why Churches Fail: Part I

…many pastors were literally crying on my shoulder because of the overwhelming problems they face…This is no surprise; usually, I am the one crying! However, the surprise here was the focus (or the lack thereof) from these pastors. Most of them did not consider effective Bible teaching or discipleship important for their church. Furthermore, discipleship was considered useful for attracting people, not for mentoring and teaching them. Most of them did not think prayer was important; rather, it was about crafting a catchy sermon with a catchy title to draw people into to their church. And, it gets worse from there. [3]

Many have placed the blame for the growing secularism in Western Culture on the shoulders of the church growth movement, wherein building membership was given priority over mentoring and teaching (discipleship) resulting phenomenal church growth over the previous fifty years but a general decline in the past few years. Simply put, many of those that now identify as spiritual but not religious, or ex-Christian, were among those we failed to disciple. As Dr. Richard J. Krejcir put it; “catchy sermon(s) with a catchy title to draw people into to their church, or high energy music and faith based entertainment, do not necessarily mentor or teach a newly converted Christian; and eventually these people will feel an emptiness, a spiritual void, and leave the church.

And in all fairness we have to include those who have committed grievous errors in the name of God and the church against the most vulnerable as being among those that we have failed to “properly” mentor and teach. Far too many who have left the church report being mentally and physically abused by those who misuse the word of God in order to facilitate their own fleshly and worldly desires. An example of this might be the parent who misuses the adage; “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” as a means to justify physical abuse of a child. While corporal punishment is at times necessary, physical abuse that goes far beyond normal punishment so as to satisfy some worldly craving is a grievous crime not to mention sinful. Cults that revere the leader and not God might be another example. Therefore the need to be succinct and clear as we disciple the spiritually vunerable should be apparent.

As you read the various editorials, blogs, and Christian news related pieces on the Internet—especially those that allow readers to post comments—you must carefully vet statements you read. Many who despise religion especially Christianity, often make remarks designed to mislead you, to draw you away from God. Most of these comments are remarkably inaccurate and not reflective of Christian tradition.

However for those that have not been properly discipled or mentored in Christian teachings, the statements appear logical and have the effect of causing the inadequately discipled Christian to question the validity of his/her belief structure. Some of these who question the validity of the Christian faith go on to be those who self identify as spiritual but not religious, a follower of Christ but not a Christian, or a card carrying atheist.

The group that identifies as a follower of Jesus but not Christian often cite that Christ said this or that, Christ was a pacifist who said to love everybody, that Christ never spoke against the sinful acts enjoyed by sexual minorities today. But these who we have failed to completely disciple or mentor, themselves fail to consider what Jesus said in Mathew 7:21; “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

So that dear reader is why we must avail ourselves of the immense resources available to us through books, periodicals, online sources, ageless commentaries and concordances, we must continue to educate ourselves so that we can mentor others so that they can themselves ascertain what Christ meant when he said; “…only the one who does the will of my Father…”

[1] http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/entry/6580/why-many-welcoming-churches-are-dying-churches?

[2] http://www.vergenetwork.org/2011/09/14/mike-breen-why-the-missional-movement-will-fail/

[3] http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=42339&columnid=4545

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