As I am reading Jesus Christ Disciplemaker by Bill Hull I am struck by one profound and simple thought. Hull says that, “A disciple finds and teaches disciples.” The problem that Hull points out is that we (the North American church) have a problem with inbreeding. Now I don’t mean that all of our cousins are marrying each other (although this could be debated about some of our Mennonite churches J just kidding) The problem is we are discipling the same people over and over, and then we have “Forty trainers” and no one new to train. As a result most of our church growth comes from drawing people from other churches. We’re not making new disciples, we’re just recycling old ones.
Now I realise that this is hardly a new observation but maybe it’s one that needs to be made again. The men that Jesus chose as his disciples weren’t believers when He first took them along. A prime example of this is found in Mark 4:38-44, “Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Hush, be still." And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?" They became very much afraid and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?" (NASB) Now somehow I doubt that if they knew who Jesus was they would lack faith in Him. Also I think that the disciples words “Who then is this” give us a glance into their view of Jesus. They wouldn’t ask this question if they knew who He was, and what He was capable of. Nope the Disciples were just a bunch of crazy unbelievers who Jesus called to follow Him.
Which brings me back to my point about our churches. We spend so much of our time and money training leaders and training people to get involved and lead, but are we missing the example that Christ left for us? What if instead of putting the mighty resources of the church into training believers, we took unbelieving atheists and had them follow us and listen to us talk and teach? Well maybe an atheist is a little extreme… But what if instead of always training our Christian brothers and sisters, we asked people who haven’t made a commitment to observe our lives and our doctrine the way Jesus asked the Disciples to observe Him? Maybe it’s just crazy, or maybe it’s a good way to combat the “inbreeding” of our churches today.