McCraken and more than one commenter make the point that the church needs to learn again how to actually make disciples. The statement got me thinking: Do we know how to be disciples?
Before John Wesley went out making disciples of Jesus Christ, and inventing along the way all the apparatus of Methodism, he spent years in his own intensive discipleship program. He was a disciple for a long time before he had any noticeable success in making disciples.
How many pastors — at any level — in the United Methodist Church right now are exemplary disciples of Jesus Christ? What are they hallmarks of their discipleship programs?
In a lot of ways, Methodism is just an application of John Wesley’s own spiritual practices to other people. If the discipleship practices he found edifying in the 18th century could be expanded to others, why can’t the discipleship practices that we pursue also be expanded?
The real problem behind that question is getting people to participate.
John Wesley did that by preaching wrath.
Most of us do it today by trying to adapt the marketing and management strategies of McDonald’s.
We can worry about these questions, though, later. First, we have to figure out how to make disciples. My proposal for this is first to figure out how to be disciples ourselves.