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Making Disciples or Gathering Crowds (& Celebrating the Insignificant)

April 11, 2012

I don’t want to rain on anyone’s post-Easter parade, but while I am happy for record-setting Easter Sunday crowds, I am afraid we might be celebrating the insignificant.

If that is indeed what we are doing, we would not be the first disciples to miss the point. When the original twelve expressed their misplaced excitement about casting out demons, Jesus told them they were celebrating the wrong thing. (Luke 10)

A basic leadership principle says that whatever leaders celebrate, followers will try to duplicate. If we celebrate big crowds, people who respect us will strive to make big crowds happen.

I am not anti-crowd, unless that crowd in in an airport. I prefer a crowded church to an empty one. But knowing the size of the crowd does not tell me enough to know if it should be celebrated.

We are called to make disciples, not to gather crowds. So before we celebrate a big number, we must ask ourselves if we have a plan to translate that crowd into disciples. If Easter has come and gone and we are not already executing and evaluating a plan to get church visitors in a discipleship process, then celebrating record numbers is missing the point.

Maybe we are confused about the task. It is not our job to build a church, and Jesus is no longer making disciples. If we attempt to do his job (building the church), he does not automatically switch and do our job (making disciples). If we focus on making disciples, Jesus will take those disciples and build a church that will cause hell major headaches.

If my job is building a church, then I might celebrate a record Easter crowd. Maybe. But, since my job is making disciples, I probably should evaluate how I am planning to get that Easter crowd involved in a discipleship process by establishing foundations, equipping them for ministry and empowering them to make disciples.

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