I have really been struggling lately with this topic of "blowing it." Every time I sit down to pen my thoughts, it gets more and more complicated. I think it's because one thing leads me on to something else and I'm learning as I blog instead of learning and then blogging. So pardon me for "thinking out loud."
My most recent difficulty came about because I was thinking about what the church does. My thought went like this: The most important thing the church does is preach the word of God. That sounds like a no brainer. But then I was overwhelmed by a feeling of uncertainty. I think Jesus meant that the church was to make disciples. That's the most important thing. Preaching is often an important way of doing that, but not the only way. Disciples are always made by relationship. Preaching helps. Preaching urges people into that relationship with Jesus but I think that preaching alone cannot make disciples. This then led to lots of Lutheran soul searching on my part. After all, we're the Word Alone people. The proclamation of the word (by preaching) is what we do. But I think I'm quickly arriving at the conclusion that it isn't enough. Preaching is important, but there has to be more or discipleship won't happen. There has to be relationship, one to one teaching and learning. "Follow me," Jesus said. Then they watched him, then he let them practice, then he sent them out to make disciples. That's the method.
For the last 60 years we've been building churches in this country but not so many disciples. It isn't any wonder then why things seem to be going down hill so fast. We've been preaching but not discipling. And it's going to take some pretty drastic measures to recapture discipleship.
Something else that is weighing heavily on my mind these days: I think almost every church in America needs to be re-evangelized. We have so many good, faithful people. But so often times they are in relationship with the church (as institution) and not in relationship with the Lord of the Church, Jesus. This means that the role of the pastor has become even harder than before. For we must seek to re-educate our people as well as reach the lost.
Those are my thoughts these days. Thanks for reading. God bless you. PJ