I recently read this in a book and it really hit hard…
“What is killing the church today is having the mission focused on keeping Christians within the church happy, well fed, and growing. Discipleship is continually pitted against evangelism and championed as the endgame for the church. The mission cannot be about us – it must be about those who have not crossed the line of faith. The problem is, we like the mission to be about us. And this has caused a spiritual narcissism to invade the church.” (James Emery White, Meet Generation Z)
Wow, right?! He’s not pulling any punches.
His point is that as soon as the focus of the church turns inward, you not only lose focus, you miss out on the point of Christianity. But, it’s so easy, it’s so subtle and it can happen so quickly.
I know this because it can happen with me.
It can be so easy to lose focus and get the priorities wrong. It can be so easy to put myself in the centre. It can be so easy to put my preferences, my personal inclinations and my desires first. It can be so easy to put my needs before the needs of the world around me.
White goes on to say this…
“The individual needs and desires of the believer have become the centre of attention, which is why most churches have as their primary focus reaching and then serving the already convinced. So the mission isn’t making disciples but caring for them.”
Those are challenging words.
But, if we can hear his words honestly, I think he points out a huge temptation for churches – the temptation is to subtly focus on caring for disciples, rather than making disciples. And, of course it matters to care for disciples, but when that becomes the goal or primary focus, you won’t make disciples. The sequence matters. Making disciples will lead you to caring for them, but if you focus on caring for disciples, you won’t make any new ones.
So, I bring this all up because I believe White raises a valid temptation for all disciples of Jesus – the temptation to make the church about us and not others. And that happens in hundreds of simple and subtle ways. But, I know what God is asking of me – to resist that temptation and to join Him in His mission “to go and make disciples.”
Because, it’s not about me; it’s about reaching those who aren’t here yet.