Neil Cole writes,“Ultimately each church will be evaluated by only one thing. Its disciples! Your church is only as good as its disciples. It does not matter how good your praise, preaching, programs or property are. If your disciples are passive, needy, consumerist, and not moving in the direction of radical obedience, your church is not good.”
No one likes criticism, but if it is taken in a heart of obedience ,and if it is received without an interpretation of immediate defensiveness, it can be life changing. None of us have arrived as disciples of Christ. None of us practice immediate obedience. We often create within ourselves our own measuring rod by which we evaluate our own effectiveness and approach to the Christian life. We rationalize. We compare ourselves to the norm we see around us which often allows us the supposed right to say that we are at least better than most around us. We settle into a rut and we get comfy. This is not to say that we are not accomplishing things for the Lord. What is being said is we are setting the expectations and not so much God doing the setting. Nothing too radical or demanding about that.
I let a statement hurt my feelings this week and it immediately caused me to come out fighting. I’m not a very passive person when I feel challenged or if I feel I’m being attacked. In the fight or flight scenario, I’m way too often fight. That happened this week. No need to go into specifics here, but it was a spiritual moment for me. I always teach my students and my youth at church to always listen to criticism and to take from it any truths that may be held in the criticism and to throw out any negative tone which might have been a part of the criticism because we are all human. Our emotions and attitudes become a part of our wording sometimes. Wrongly spoken criticism can still hold truths that we need to consider.
I will say that a part of the lesson I learned this week is in the area of boldness and immediate obedience. We need to return as a church to the simple message of radical obedience in the area of evangelism. Passivity in the area of witness is not a luxury we can afford as believers. The above quote portrays a truth that I do see in the church, and in some areas, within myself. I have intense passion for discipling and teaching believers and explaining God’s Word to non-believers as well, but often I fall short in evangelistic fervor outside of the church building. I miss opportunities and I get distracted by life and yes, even church work as well.
None of us can afford to be passive, needy, consumeristic and disobedient in our calling. We should be leading more to Christ and be presenting an intentional witness outside of our church involvements. This should be showing itself in our workplaces, families, friendships and communities. So in the area of discipleship, the emphasis should be on training with a high accountability that that teaching will show itself successful based on obedience and evangelistic action. We cannot be dead sea Christians who are always receiving fresh water through discipleship training ,but providing for no outlet to share its Truth.