Guest Blogger: Modern Reject

July 6, 2011

Here’s the scoop, everyone.

By the time you read this, I’ll be far away from home on vacation.  When I return home, I’ll wash my clothes and head down to Mexico for a week with Adventures in Missions.

So over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be doing a little bit on Facebook and Twitter, and posting a comment or two, but I won’t be making regular posts (save for an interlude between vacation and Mexico).

But not to worry!  I’ve lined up some amazing guest bloggers to keep you company, and I’ll be reposting some of my best content from the last year.

To show you that I’m serious about having great guest bloggers, I’m kicking things off with a guest post from Nicole Cottrell, whose blog, Modern Reject, has so much guts and grit, it could beat up my blog if it wanted to.  If you don’t already read her blog, just start punching yourself in the face right now.  Be sure to show Nicole some love here and then go check out her blog.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

If you were to stop the average Christian on the street and ask them what they would change about the American Church, they could most likely rattle off a few answers with little hesitation.

Some people might say that the Church fails in the area of social justice, (a term which, by the way, drives me crazy.  How about we just call it “injustice?”) Another person might feel that we neglect the poor, or that we fail in how we address homosexuality. Heck, another person might believe that the Church has simply failed to remain relevant in their eyes.

But, if you ask me, which maybe you aren’t, but I’m gonna tell you anyway, I suspect that many of the church’s failings we can easily rattle off can be resolved with just one word…

Discipleship.

The word “disciple” and “discipleship” is thrown around casually within the Church.  But it’s rarely understood, let alone practiced.

Christ knew, as He was separting from our physical presence, that the best vehicle with which to reach men was to disciple them. Considering the call to make disciples was the last thing Jesus told us, you would also think we would take the call more seriously.

Problems arise, however, when we realize most Christians, as well as churches and ministries, have wildly varying definitions of the word discipleship. Likewise, the majority of Christians have never actually been discipled, so how could they fully grasp the concept, or better yet, replicate it?

You Are Not Important

Robert E. Coleman, writes in his book, The Master Plan of Evangelism, that “men were Jesus’ method.”  Jesus chose a few select men with whom to live life, teach, and equip, while still enabling Him to complete His ministry.

The Church today, however, often fails to focus on a few, but rather the masses. In an attempt to grow churches, gain numbers, and produce converts, the individual is neglected in favor of the corporate.

Jesus’ choice in discipleship was not a church program or a checklist.  He had things in mind that He desired to teach, absolutely. His allowed these men to simply live life alongside Him.  They were able to observe, ask questions, participate, and wrestle with His deity.

No Experience Required

How would real discipleship resolve our personal gripes and hang-ups with the Church?

Well, for starters each believer would be accountable, equipped, and trained to do ministry.  Wrap your head around that for a second. Individuals would be able to confidently share their faith.  Boom.  Evangelism.  No one would be required to hold a seminary degree in order to preach, teach, shepherd, or lead.

The hungry would be fed, the poor cared for, the forgotten remembered because the process of discipleship encourages Christians to do His work for His Kingdom now. Individuals would feel competent, capable, and compelled to share their discipling experience with others, thus continuing the process.

That, I believe, is what Christ had in mind, using men to continue His ministry, men who would disciple other men, in the same intentional and powerful way He had done…and nothing less. That is also why I believe that discipleship, when practiced like Christ instructed, can and would help turn all of our gripes, complaints, and hang-ups about the Church into solutions and resolutions, no more complaining, only action.

Let’s hear it.  What is your biggest gripe against the Church?  What’s the solution?  How would you define discipleship, and why do you think the church isn’t doing it?

42 responses to Guest Blogger: Modern Reject

  1. Hi Nicole,

    Thanks for minding the store while Matt is off in the bushes.

    Before commenting, I visited your site and naturally, being a guy married for 44 years, the first of your postings I read was the one about “Is Your Husband A Pervert”. You done stopped preaching and gone to meddling there. Thanks. I plan to point it out to my wife.

    As for your question here about what is wrong with the church? Nothing.

    To me that’s like asking what’s wrong with the Lions Club, the Elks, the Red Cross, or the PTA. To an outsider, there’s little discernible difference between church and those other fine organizations…

    Er, maybe that is the trouble?

    John Cowart

    • John,
      Thank you for kicking off the comments right. You had me laughing. Thanks too for stopping by modern Reject.

      Your response to what’s wrong with the church is well, brilliant to say the least…and sadly, not too far off.

    • Good Evening! Mr. John Cowart! How Are You? And How May I Help You?
      Sir! But First! How Are You? And How is Your Family? Doing Good!
      Mine too! I’m Glad to Respond to The Church of God & Modern
      Rejection. How Bad Is It? Oh! I’m Sorry to Hear That. Very Awful
      of Them. But Thanks Anyway! We Will Dearly Miss Matt? Going to
      Faraway Place. I Wish Him Good Luck on Your Vacation. Okay!
      Then! I Do Hope You Despite The Wrongdoings of No People Allowed
      in Church. Thanks! Friend! You Are Always Be Known to Me and
      My Other Friends Also. Let God Arise! Those Who Don’t Know Thee
      Shall Flee Before Thee. They will Be Cast Down Upon The Land
      That God Will Forsake And Later Perish Those Who Don’t Know Him.
      Pay The Consequences of Stranger’s Inquities Those Don’t Have
      Anything to Do With Me. Forget About Them! They Derseved to Be
      Alone and Not Noticed in Our Neighboorhood.
      Thank You!

      PS I Will Always Be Your Sweet Loving Man. Remember May God
      Bless You and Keep You Safe And Peaceful Quiet Neighborhood.
      No Worries! And No Bones About It. We Keep The Quiet More
      Peaceful for Many Generations to Come After This Generation.
      Forevermore!

  2. Great topic, Nicole! There are lots of issues in the church. Most of it is that it has become about ideology, talk, blather and opinion and not power. We simply need the real power of God to lead us and speak to us; then we will know what to do and how to do it.

    Discipling is a unique blend of Spirit-led of teaching, modeling, loving, sacrificing, meeting needs and encouraging another believer. Some days it is walking it out when you have other stuff to do. It is more than being a parent because it doesn’t come with authority, it is more than being a friend because it requires a deeper commitment, and it’s tougher than being a relative because you choose to do it.

    Here is my in depth take on the subject!
    http://fireandgrace.blogspot.com/2009/01/making-them-true-disciples.html

    • I’m with you on this David! Well Said…

    • David,
      Well said. I enjoyed your post on the topic too. You make some great points about what disciplehsip isn’t.

      I’d have to say though that I think discipleship does, in fact, come with authority because the person being discipled is choosing to submit to the authority of the discipler. Timothy was certainly under the authority of Paul, for example.

      You are so right too, in that it is very much sacrificing and doing it when it is least convenient or even fun.

  3. Most of my gripes against the Church are against the politics that run it. But I’m really glad to be reading something of a solution, rather than someone simply asking what’s wrong and then attacking the problem. Thanks for this!

    • Adrian,
      Church politics? What church politics? Are you suggesting that churches resemble government agencies complete with bureaucracy and red tape? No, say it ain’t so…wink wink.

      Thank you for the encouragement. I happen to be too practical of a girl to throw out a problem without offering a solution.

  4. Thanks for filling in this week. I appreciate what you share, and there couldn’t be a better time for me to read this.

    When we moved back to the US, we decided to live in my wife’s neck of the woods. We locked ourselves in to her home church because they supported us when we were overseas and we wanted to volunteer in the youth group. That last part is the reason I haven’t regretted the decision yet. This church is full of hurting people who care more about non Christians’ marriages than their own, and instead of getting mad and storming off my wife and I are doing our best to build relationships.There’s so much resistance, but we’re trying to be as faithful as we can. And to answer your question, I’ll define discipleship by stealing a Bonhoeffer book title: it’s Life Together.

    • Matt,
      I hope you and your wife find genuine family in your new church home. It sounds as if you are both willing to take the risks necessary to build those real relationships.

      I will offer up a prayer that true discipleship begins to take place there.

      p.s. You scored major points with me for mentioning Bonhoeffer!

  5. Great thoughts! For me, the two biggest issues I have with the North American church are: 1) the politicization of Christ, meaning that there is a misunderstanding that our great commission is to overturn and create laws in our governments when in actuality God cares much less about politics than we do. And… 2) the focus on affluence over influence. I just heard about a small church in my hometown that is celebrating their upcoming move to “the better part of town” as if they have finally arrived or something. The point is that we have put our eyes on the American dream and lost touch with the God’s dream.

    The solution is a pretty simple one, I think. We need to have a Kingdom perspective, one that has little to do with earthly kingdoms or material wealth. We need to ask God to break our hearts for the things that break his and live accordingly. (long comment… I should probably blog about this).

    • Oh man Jon, there is so much great stuff I could tackle in your single comment!

      “Affluence over influence” is golden. Please do write a post on these issues, or I might have to steal them and do it for you. hehe

  6. My biggest gripe against the church is that everyone has a gripe against the church. Complaints without answers. Answers without actions.

    I’m still learning what it means to be a disciple and what it looks like to disciple others. I agree that this is key, nay commanded.

    I was recently reading about what discipleship looked like in the Jewish culture with rabbis. It’s eye-opening for sure. It looks nothing like what I’m seeing, or doing for that matter.

    But I’m hopeful, not cynical. I believe there is hope. For me and the church.

    • Tony,
      I hear ya. I do not desire to be a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” as Paul writes.

      I try to keep myself from church bashing in favor of offering solutions, like discipleship, which I hold near and dear.

      I’d love to know what material you were reading regarding rabbis and their disciples. My husband and I are always on the hunt for effective, eye-opening, and powerful examples of discipleship.

      • I actually read it in a Rob Bell book (GASP!) I want to study it out myself a little more but he had some good insight. Let me see what I can dig up.

    • Tony, I feel ya on the people complaining without answers but how many times do the church leaders just not want to hear about something that might actually be wrong with the church? I’ve run into that more often than you may think. The last thing they want to hear is your potential solution to something they don’t really want to see as a problem.

      • I hear you, man. I’m not saying it’s an easy road, but I do have hope. Not at all condoning inaction, but I’ve also seen leaders that get flooded with “suggestions” with no proof that things will work. People throw things at leaders on what they should be doing without “showing” them why it will work.

        That’s what I meant by answers without action. The greatest proof of a truth is experience. When you can SHOW someone how something can be done better, it’s a lot easier to see change. It’s not enough to complain or to just talk about answers.

    • Amen. I hope I can resist the urge to be cynical though I want to do my part to guide the church in a better direction.

      • It’s way too easy to get cynical, Matt. I know I’ve struggled with it. Especially when you don’t see anything positive happening. That’s why I want to MAKE things happen, rather than complain about problems or talk hypotheticals.

        People are more likely to change when they see the change in your life and the fruit of it.

  7. I’ve been thinking and writing a lot lately about church, and how I often feel like a spectator (or audience) instead of a family member. Even when I’m participating–singing during “worship” (hopefully, it’s _all_ worship)–I can’t hear the rest of the congregation because the amps are cranked up so far. My husband is probably the only person who would notice if I never showed up every week.

    Focusing on discipleship is the antidote for performance church. Where we I sign up?

    And thanks for filling in for Matt and Mrs. Matt–they’re in MY TOWN this week, and I get to meet them because they’re coming to lunch tomorrow!!

    • Leslie!! You lucky duck! Hmm, almost tempted to zip down there. I won’t steal your moment though. (plus, I don’t want to drive 3 1/2 hours~nothing personal, Matt)

  8. One of the reasons we don’t disciple people is because of a scare in the church about 20 years ago with what was called the shepherding movement. Again, we’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water. Jesus’ final command was that we make disciples…so I’m guessing it’s pretty important. You are right, so many other issues regarding the church would be corrected if we corrected just one thing and started making disciples. I think we’ve forgotten how.

  9. Leslie,
    Man, you hit the nail on the head. My husband and I recently started a house church and we ask a series of questions to people, much like the feelings you just expressed.

    Two of the questions are: Do you feel part of an authentic spiritual family…not just a church congregation? and…Would church happen any differently if you didn’t show up? If you were absent for a day, a week, months, would church run the same with or without you?

    We all long to feel significant, competent, and loved. I do believe discipleship is fundamental is achieving these desires.

    I hope you have a great time meeting Matt! So cool!

  10. MPE is a great book. One of my favorite quotes is “A barren (meaning one who doesn’t make more disciples) Christian is a contradiction.”

    Ouch.

    Can you imagine the amount of restructuring that would need to take place for large scale discipleship to take place? Spectator Christianity might completely disappear. We would be left with people who have someone pouring their lives into them as they pour their lives into others.

    I would want to be a part of that.

  11. It bothers me that so many churches think (and preach) that THEY are the only ones doing it right and all the others are “lost.”

    Not so much as a generation ago and more, but i still hear these sermons.

    We are the catholic church – the church universal. Each has a different view of how the mission is to be carried out, and about different worship styles. But we are to be known by our love for one another. Not just in our little local congregations, but our LOVE for ONE ANOTHER. I think that includes the church, all denominations.

    So, too much infighting bothers me.

    When i was a little kid, i always wanted to bring together all the folks in my life. I wanted all my friends to be friends, too. I wanted both sets of grandparents to get together and like each other. I wanted unity.

    I don’t think we all have to believe exactly like the other, or be exactly the same, or worship in the same pattern/form, but i do wish we had more love and unity.

    • Kathryn,
      I so agree. We create so much unnecessary and distracting divide among believers…and for what? To show the world how dis-unified we really are?

      Carlos Whitaker on his blog once shared the story of a kid who asked him, while pointing out all the different churches on one street “Why can’t we just do it all together?”

      Exactly.

  12. My biggest gripe with the church is that I think we’ve gotten off-track in our purpose. I’ve said it here before, but I think it bears repeating – imo, the purpose of the church is to encourage, equip, and establish BELIEVERS. _CHURCH_ is for _BELIEVERS_. If a “seeker” wants to come a check it out, that’s fine, but when our focus becomes the “seeker,” we end up not teaching and growing the believers in our midst and I think this lack of growth creates large numbers, but few commitments. It feeds into the “me” generation idea of only staying at a church for as long as it is “feeding” _me_ (i.e., as long as the music suits my tastes, and no one steps on my toes, and the pastor doesn’t get too “preachy,” etc.). Despite countless requests for volunteers and sermons about service (and/or “injustice” as you so aptly put it), if you don’t actually develop the believer into a mature Christian, then you’ll never find enough people who are willing.

    And I think you’ve hit the nail on the head – you grow believers through discipleship – which is messy and hard to control. It’s also something that can’t be “assigned” necessarily (like trying to “assign” people to small groups) – you have to find two people who work well together, who respect each other, and the student needs to be willing to submit himself to the teacher’s authority. You can have an emphasis on finding mentorship, but until someone buys into the idea, nothing’s ever going to happen with it.

    • Melissa,
      You are singing my tune! Wow. No joke, I have an upcoming post titled “What is the Purpose of the Church?” Do you think you can guess what my answer might be? You nailed it.

      Forget that, you could write the post for me. Great stuff. Thank you for commenting!

  13. ‘Enjoying the conversation here. I definitely see a general focus on each person having a personal relationship with God and then, all too often, keeping it personal. If we become healthy by growing deep with each other–in Christ–it’s going to turn heads when people outside the church see Christians who have a Christ-like relationship with each other and a profoundly Spirit-led involvement with our world.

    We need to get real with God and each other to break out of “going to church” as individual bodies filling pews (or cool stackable hip-and-modern chairs), and living fully as the body of Christ every day, wherever we are.

    I’m getting together w/a few people to look at truly “living as the body” and praying that as we ask God to make it real in us and walk in it together–it’ll infect the rest of our church family.

  14. Biggest gripe against The Church?

    None. Jesus is building it, so it is perfect.

    Biggest gripe against man’s churches? Oh my…there’s not enough hours in the day to answer this one.

    I think it has become too commonplace and accepted to have flavor-of-the-month “thinkers” who like to ask “Did God really say….?” questions in the vain attempt at appearing to be cutting edge and hip.

    I myself have no issue with a single thing my Father has said. At all. I reckon I’m just a simpleton then, hyuck-yuck, and I lack the deep theology of the emergent new Christianity puppet.

    Man’s church has become a joke. A parody. A country club for the disenfranchised and ignorant. It is now a hub of political activism, bleeding-heart liberalism, and way too many rock star emergent wussies who lack any warrior spirit at all.

    However….*shrugs*…meh. No worries. Someone has to fulfill Matthew 7:15-22.

    • Nicole,

      Ekklesia. Start there and I believe we can begin to implement the Truth of discipleship and all it entails.

      The biggest threat to The Gospel of our Father’s Kingdom is man’s version of church. Once we remove this, the possibilities are endless.

  15. It certainly seems we are on the same page. I was not neglected, per se, as a new believer, but I did not have consistent discipleship. Today, I refuse to let that stop me. I have recently added a third disciple to the discipleship program we just started this year at church. It is real life mixed with biblical studies, apologetics, and simply sharing what they believe and why. There is church history, theology, and proper exegesis mixed with life lessons, prayer, and times of fun!

    As others have commented, we must make sure we are not allowing too much ideology and emotionalism and promoting the power of the Holy Spirit.

    • Dan,

      You said:
      “As others have commented, we must make sure we are not allowing too much ideology and emotionalism and promoting the power of the Holy Spirit.”
      —————–

      Careful, there….you keep talking like that and you’ll make the list of mean-spirited and hateful Christians.

  16. There is a lot wrong with the Church.

    We are fallible beings that constantly want to place ourselves at the center.

    But Christ Jesus exerts His will, in spite of our selfish, religious ways, and brings us back to faith…over and over and over again.

    Thanks.

  17. I think the biggest problem with the church is the people who attend the church, while hating the church. How can that breed anything other then contempt?
    It’s like being married to someone you despise, telling them ALL THE TIME that you despise them, and then wondering “what’s wrong with the kids”?
    When we learn to love our imperfect church, with it’s imperfect people, then maybe the bride will florish?
    Just a thought.

  18. You know, in addition to asking what’s wrong with the church today, we could try to figure out what’s RIGHT with the church. I mean, I know for me which list would be longer (hint: it’s not our success stories).

    The church – as it typically exists in American culture – has become a top-heavy political machine where the head (the pastor) is the main focus of everything: what the series is about; what the worship music sounds like; what the length of the service is; etc. We have stopped trying to make disciples and instead want a congregation full of bobble-heads who simply nod in agreement to what is being spoken. I grew up with the rhyme stuck in my head that you open the door to see all the people in church, not the pastor.

    Man, my rant mode is on today. Maybe I need a hug…

    This is a great discussion, and I’ve loved reading (and agreeing with!) most of the comments thus far.

  19. Lets make this fun! How do we have free will when God is all powerful and has a plan for us all? How is God all knowing but yet he is surprised that Adam and Eve ate an apple from the tree of Knowledge (by the way, there were no apples in that area at that time. It was likely a Fig…but who cares about accuracy, we are talking about the BIBLE!!). Yes, I see a ton of issues with the church. It teaches morality with unbelievably immoral topics. Any human in this day and age would detest Yahweh of Abraham. The Bible is full of inaccuracy in nearly every Book! The Resurrection story is mention in four books…it is different in four books. The lent story is different in each book. Jesus lies in each book. Is this the infallible word of God? Think about it!!!

    • Sorry about my typing errors, I was too busy having sex with an underaged minor…just like GOD! …or Horus, or Isoris, or Dionysis, or Mythras, or Krishna or Yahweh. It is so hard to keep track of what the truth is. Maybe I will just listen to Zeus. He is the original, right? He must be truth then. Well that answers that.

      • Wow. Good job dropping a comment grenade that not only is insulting, off topic, and highly inaccurate in it’s assumptions, but you do it anonymously. The problem with someone like you is you think you are doing something really ballsy, but you come off as just clueless, not to mention, gutless. Like we’re supposed to be insulted by a bunch of tired cliches thrown at us that a 13 year old could refute. Way to go.

    • Anonymity does not protect you from looking like a grade-a jerk, despite your best efforts. (yes, Christians are allowed to say ‘jerk’)

      Any Christian who has spent any significant amount of time in the faith can easily rebuttal your mediocre and toothless arguments.

      However, your tone and approach makes it clear that you are not seeking discussion, but rather Bible-bashing. Sorry, not interested.

  20. An interesting blog about people hurt by or tired of status quo church is called I Hate Church. It is written by a Christian who is exploring what we can change about church without compromising what can not be changed. It’s at http://ihatechurch.com