They say every preacher has one sermon. Dan Dick has one blog post, but it is a good and needful one. Here’s the latest iteration.
In this he laments the low expectations culture of the United Methodist Church as a whole.
We want a definition of discipleship that costs absolutely nothing. People often comment that they think I make discipleship too hard, that I expect too much of people, that I am unrealistic in my expectations. I always wonder where people got the idea that discipleship was supposed to be easy and convenient. Can people be Christian “believers” and not read the Bible and not pray, and not attend church regularly, and not give or serve as an expression of their faith, and not fast, and not share their faith? Obviously, a lot of people think so. But be a disciple? Discipleship has some built-in defining characteristics that are much more demanding than occasionally showing up. People who haven’t shared in public worship for two years should not be called disciples. Those too busy to pray, who have no time to meet with other Christians for accountability and spiritual practice, who neglect a sacrificial commitment of time or money should not be called disciples. Those who do meet to debate carpet colors, criticize the pastoral leadership, snipe over music styles, and decide who isn’t welcome are not disciples. Those who only pay attention to the parts they like and that make them feel comfortable and lovable are not disciples. Come on! Why would anyone want to be a disciple if the key qualification is breathing?
On his blog, I asked — and will repeat here — whether we are institutionally capable of surviving the fall out that would happen if United Methodists got serious about discipleship. Here is what I predict would happen: First, there would be a tremendous amount of conflict and shedding of “members.” Then, the remnant would go forth and be much more like the church as the New Testament describes it. But make not mistake, it would be a much smaller church. It would probably be more active and vital, but it would be smaller.
There would be fewer buildings, fewer full-time jobs for clergy, and even less cultural relevance than we have now — at least for a time.
If we want a church of disciples — I think it says this somewhere in our mission statement — then shouldn’t we being doing the kind of institutional prep work that getting that kind of church is going to require? The image that comes into my head is Noah. If we know a flood is coming, shouldn’t we be building an ark?
Maybe someone is. I can’t hear the hammering from where I stand, though.