The global Church seems to be captivated with bringing witness to Christ. In contrast, the American Church, as a whole, seems more preoccupied with the mechanics of the widgets of Christendom. As the majority world Church grows rapidly through our brothers and sisters among the nations, their purer, primal Christianity shows us our need for the rediscovery of the primal expressions of Christianity in North America.
In Asia, people are not only coming to faith in Christ, but they are also being equipped to share their faith and actively participate in making disciples of their friends, neighbors, and work associates. This is in great contrast to most North American churches where people take a membership class, make a profession of faith, and acclimate to the life of the church through attendance and participation in the programs of the church. In North America, building church attendance seems to be the goal. In the global church, building disciple-makers who build disciple-makers is the goal.
I have personally spent time with house church movements, underground churches, and a variety of organic movements in many parts of Asia. It always amazes me to witness moments when people come to faith in Christ at nine o’clock in the morning, and then by three o’clock in the afternoon, those people are now passionately sharing the gospel with a doctrinal precision that most North American church goers cannot articulate. I marvel as some of the new converts of the morning lead their friends and neighbors to Christ in the afternoon, the very same day of their conversion. Converts are trained immediately after conversion to share their faith. Why? Because sharing the gospel is one of the normative ways a Christian follows Christ in discipleship.
What if the North American Church experienced a life-giving recalibration? What if she began to shift her focus from growing attendees to making disciples who make disciples for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom? Check back in a few days for the next blog post when we will examine how to foster this possibility.
Paul Lawler is the Lead Pastor of Christ Church UMC Birmingham and is active in disciple-making and church planting both locally and globally. He, along with a very gifted team, founded the Rejuvenate Conference in 2011. You can follow Paul on Twitter @plawler111.