Great questions by Gordon MacDonald at Out of Ur about the lack of spiritually mature Christians.
He distinguishes between churchly and mature…
“Now mature, in my book does not mean the “churchly,” those who have mastered the vocabulary and the litany of church life, who come alive only when the church doors open. Rather, I have in mind those who walk through all the corridors of the larger life—the market-place, the home and community, the playing fields—and do it in such a way that, sooner or later, it is concluded that Jesus’ fingerprints are all over them.”
While he is asking what is wrong in our discipleship process, he also makes an interesting statement…
“The tragedy is that they may well be there in embryo, waiting to be discovered, waiting for sound training, waiting to be emancipated from the cult of the mediocre.”
Great answers from Alan Hirsch at Forgotten Ways on the process of discipleship…
“And this is exactly how Jesus does discipleship: he organizes it around mission. As soon as they are called He takes the disciples on an adventurous journey of mission, ministry, and learning. Straightaway are involved in proclaiming the Kingdom of God, serving the poor, healing, and casting out demons. And it is active and direct disciple-making in the context of mission.
If we accept that Jesus forms the primary pattern of disciple-making for the church, then we must say that discipleship is our core task. But if disciple-making lies at the heart of our commission then we must organize it around mission because mission is the catalyzing principle of discipleship. In Jesus they are inexorably linked.”
The structure of church has become like a noose in the discipleship process. Rather than discipling and training for mission, it seems that the majority of training is for “ministry” which has come to mean service within the church system.
So many people clamor for positional ministry while at the same time missing the opportunity to be involved in the real service of ministry. It saddens me to hear of young men or women who cannot find mentors and elders in their lives, yet within the same community there is a line around the block for “leadership” training.
Unless the institutions of church divorce themselves from raising up volunteers for their programs and creating structures of importance and inclusion based upon participation in those programs, we will not see real maturity or discipleship.