Something remarkable is happening in the world.
Jesus is building HIS church!
True, he’s been doing it for a long time now, but in recent decades there has been an explosion of growth.
“Hang on,” I hear many say. “The church is quite clearly in decline, and has been declining for some time.” Such comments only illustrate the ethnocentricity of the commenters. Yes, the church in the West has been in decline, but not the church in the world. In non-western countries there has been amazing growth, which is set to continue until the end. It is only in places where the church has been long established, and has followed western traditions, that growth is difficult.
“But just a minute,” I hear others say, “My denomination is not in decline. Others are declining, some as much as 5% per anum, but we’re actually growing at 1.5 to 2.5%.”
Let’s be realistic here. Is this all we have settled for as a measure of success? If the church was a business and put in those returns, then it would soon disappear, dead and buried under bankruptcy petitions and law suits from the shareholders.
Then you say, “But growth isn’t only measured by numbers of people.” I agree – growth is measured by whether or not we are carrying out the commission Jesus gave us.
Then Jesus came to them (the eleven disciples) and said. “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, NIV)
This is the so very familiar, but so often ignored, Great Commission.
If we were really carrying out this commission, wouldn’t the evidence be a vast number of disciples? And, by my understanding, if we were to teach them to do what Jesus did, as he asks, then they would all be making a vast number of disciples. Clearly, a disciple is someone who can make another disciple. Therefore, all disciples are disciple makers. In fact, Jesus is telling us to go into the world and make disciplemakers. It is this principle that is being followed in the non-western nations where the church is growing so dramatically.
Do you get the idea that Jesus IS interested in numbers – not in numbers of people sitting in pews, singing songs, and listening to sermons about the Great Commission, but in numbers of people who are out in the world making disciples.
We will tell stories in this website about how this is already happening in non-western countries, and how it is beginning in small ways to happen in the West. We will also look at why the kind of exponential growth that was experienced in the church of the first few centuries ceased, and how it might begin again in our time and cultures.
We will also point to and provide resources which will help you to achieve in your own life and church what Jesus clearly intended right from the beginning. Ironically, the biggest resource available to the church might well be the vast numbers of people who have left what is traditionally called “The Church”, because they are rightly disillusioned or disappointed for many reasons. Many of them still love Jesus and hunger for the reality that they read about in the New Testament but they have not found it in the institutions they have left behind.
Others persevere with the church, but know there must be more.
And yet more – vastly more – aren’t even aware that they have not received all that Jesus promised them of abundant living, and go through the motions of “doing church”, either because it is the “right thing to do”, or its worth it for moral and social reasons, or, far too often, in the hope of avoiding hell and reaching heaven at the end of life.
There is Good News for all of these. Not only is there life after death, there is life before death!
Let’s explore together how, with Jesus’ help, we might Awaken the West!