As a minister, I've spent my years in ministry with a deep passion to make followers of Jesus Christ. That's what Jesus himself told us to do, "go and make disciples." However, how do I really know if that's being done? What I'm getting at is this: I've had the same thinking that countless other church leaders did--and for the most part still do--concerning ministry.
That's the problem. We all know what the mission is: Make Followers of Jesus Christ.
But the way we gauge if we're successful doesn't work. It's the easier way, in fact, it's the only way that is tangible. It's called "counting heads."
If you've been in ministry on any level, full-time, part-time, volunteer or just sat in a service, then you've heard the phrase, "how many did we have?" I've sat in staff meetings where we gauged our success by that phrase. I've asked that same question to my own staff or other people to gauge the success of their mission. Why? Because of the belief that if people are coming to our life-changing services or meaningful classes or purposeful events, then there must be some productivity coming out of it. Lives must be being changed. So we count heads.
Unfortunately, the head is not where life change happens. It happens in the heart. When asked by the religious leaders of His day what the greatest commandment was, Jesus answered, "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matt. 22:36-39) There's the problem. Jesus gives us a way to gauge our spiritual growth that many of us, myself included, have not been using.
The way we know if we are truly making followers of Jesus Christ, or should I say, if WE are truly followers of Jesus, is by the way we/they love God and love others. The separation of the two cannot exist, at least not in the sense of truthfulness. Unfortunately, the condition of the heart is a hard aspect to see. I mean, we don't have at the entrances of all of our churches a "Dr. Seuss Heart Detector" (you know, like what was used to see the Grinch's heart two sizes too small).
However, I offer this thought. Is it possible to see our churches filled with people who openly worship God in song and dance, yet truly are not in a growing, maturing relationship to become more and more like Jesus? I think so.
I'm not discrediting that we're not passionate about worshiping God. I just think there's more--the loving-other-people-like-you-love-yourself part just seems to be missing.
Maybe not missing, just not highly visible because I truly believe that people want to love one another and given the right opportunity, they do. I also believe that this type of atmosphere has to be created and maintained by the group's leadership to continually foster that type of attitude.
Be forewarned though, a church or organization that does strive to make these types of followers of Christ will have a hard time keeping the unchurched, the lost, the hurt, the masses away. People want to be loved and to find a church that truly does that and loves God,.....well, sign me up too!