Like many people, I really don’t enjoy meetings. In my opinion most of them are not very productive and I often leave them feeling as if nothing substantial had been accomplished. Occasionally I will attend a meeting that proves to be the exception to the rule. We will really accomplish something or (if I’m lucky) someone will say something truly profound. Such was the case in one of our executive team meetings. The guest speaker posed a question that really hit me. “What is the key element that is missing in the disciple making process today?” The answer, while short, was profound – “Intentionality.”
The church isn’t intentional in its mission to make disciples. We plan, promote and execute events without ever giving much thought to what we want to accomplish and hope that somehow something good will happen. I call this “ministry by accident.” We continue aimlessly doing church the same way we always have and every now and then ministry occurs. We rarely take the time to analyze what we are doing to determine if it is effective or not. This is probably why one of the most familiar phrases uttered in a Baptist church is, “that’s how we’ve always done it before.”
Baptists are, for the most part, great event planners, but we are ineffective disciple makers. Every year Baptist put together some pretty impressive Vacation bible Schools, we send our youth on exciting mission trips and hold inspiring conventions. Yet, for all our efforts, we see very few lives changed. We see minimal spiritual growth. We don’t see much discipleship. Despite this uncomfortable reality, we continue to do the same thing, the same way, over and over again. Given that we are steadily loosing ground, maybe it’s time to reevaluate our procedures. Maybe it’s time to become intentional about making disciples.
Being intentional about making disciples means asking questions. It means setting objectives and goals. It means doing things purposefully. It means evaluating what was done to see how well it worked. Admittedly, these are not things we are accustomed to or comfortable doing. It is much easier to just put together really well planned events and let the chips fall where they may.
Our speaker said that he had recently visited a church that was celebrating the fact that they had eighty-five men registered for a Promise Keepers event. He said, “That’s Great” and asked what they had planned as a follow up to the event. Their response was, as often is the case, “Nothing.” It seems their primary focus was on creating a great event experience and not necessarily on creating disciples. No doubt they hoped that the event would serve in the disciple making process but with no follow up, with no reinforcement there would be no way to know.
It might be time for us to stop doing things simply because we have always done it that way before and start doing things purposefully. It might be time for us to be intentional. It might be time for us to critically examine what we are doing and ask the tough questions. What do we hope to accomplish? How are we going to do it? Is this the most effective and God honoring way? Are we, as our Lord commanded, making disciples?