If it walks like a Christian and quacks like a Christian, is it a Christian?
Can we define a set of actions that a disciple would do and then systematically train people to do those actions? Will they then be Christian disciples?
Does participating in activities produce disciples of Christ?
Gary Gilley recently wrote an article entitled “Willow Creek’s Big Adventure” at:
In it he discusses Willow Creek’s recent admission that they had been wrong. One of the executive pastors of Willow Creek, Greg Hawkins had this to say:
Hawkins defines Willow’s ministerial goal as “trying to help people who are far from Christ become disciples of Christ characterized by their love for God and other people.” This is a most commendable goal, but how has Willow gone about trying to accomplish this goal? “We do that,” Hawkins states, “by creating a variety of programs and services for people to participate in. Our strategy is to try to get people, far from Christ, engaged in these activities. The more people are participating in these sets of activities with higher levels of frequency it will produce disciples of Christ.”
But they discovered that 1) “increasing levels of participation in these activities does not predict whether a person will become a disciple of Christ.” 2) in every church there is a spiritual continuum ranging from unbelievers to fully devoted followers of Christ. 3) All have different needs but churches most filled needs of unbelievers and new believers, leaving fully devoted believers dissatisfied with church (this survey was done only on seeker friendly churches following Willow’s model.)
“…we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become self-feeders. We should have gotten people, taught them how to read their Bibles between services, do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own because what’s happening to these people, the older they get the more they are expecting the church to feed them, when in fact the more mature a Christian becomes the more he becomes a self-feeder.”
Certainly people should know how to feed themselves. But Jesus also told the disciples to feed the flock. Paul told the pastors and elders to shepherd the flock. Will doing “the spiritual practices” produce disciples of Christ??? Somehow I think they still don’t get it.
It’s like we have tried to break down Christian behavior into bytes and then made programs to train people to do those bytes. And we seem to be assuming that it’s the doing of them that makes us Christians, or at least somehow that by training ourselves to do, act, and think like a Christian that we will become one. So we “do” church in ways to engage interest and get people to come to activities and join in the “training” assuming it will produce Christians. But will it? Or are we risking damnably deceiving ourselves??