The past few weeks, I've been engaged a a real struggle over how well we at New Hope are helping people become more like Jesus. I've struggled in prayer over it. I've thrashed about with the issue over on a pastor's forum I'm blessed to be a part of. I've consumed mass quantities of information from every source I could find.
The lethargy of movement in growth and reluctance to pursue Jesus with abandon that I see as lacking in many of the good people of New Hope is a real issue for me. The question of whether they are believers hasn't been one I've puzzled over. It is the lack of perceptible fruit in their growth.
When you look ahead by looking at the generations coming along (at least here) There doesn't seem to be any help coming along. If I went to the RA leader tomorrow night and asked for a boy to give his testimony in Sunday morning worship, (I may be mistaken and wouldn't that be wonderful) I doubt he'd be able to find one who could do a credible and sincere job of it. What does that say about how well we are training the next generation of leaders?
We've been doing the typical SBC plan for as long as I can remember - here and in the other churches I have been a part of. Sunday School, Wed night classes, and for a long time worshiping together on Sunday night. We've used Lifeway, Group, Serendipity, Willow Creek, Saddleback and other curriculum.
It doesn't seem to be transforming people.
Yes, they mostly know about the Bible. But absent the heart to read it like a love letter, what does that mean? I can remember coming home from dates with Bunny and lying there in bed running back through everything that happened - what she wore, what she said, how she looked at me. I wanted to know everything about here. I wanted to love what she loved.
And yeah, I know this isn't the same as a romantic love relationship. But if there's a relationship that matters, shouldn't there be a real desire to know?
So I'm searching for what to do to change the status quo. Surprise, surprise.
Leader so far - discipleship triads. There's a great article about that type of intensive discipleship here (click on it for link). Jesus certainly did large groups, but for the more serious instruction he broke those down to 12 and even went farther to the inner three.
It will take time. We cannot add it to everything else we are already doing. Some activities need to die. I know that whatever we change or cancel will have some people complaining about the changes. So be it.
Stay tuned. More as this story develops.