Last week I was re-reading the opening of 'Everyday Church' which has some alarming statistics about church attendance, or rather non-attendance, I then read an article in the current briefing about the church in the UK which contained yet more statistics charting the decline in UK discipleship.
One the interesting points that article focused on was that with fewer and fewer children having any exposure to church or the bible it is harder and takes longer for those people to understand the gospel when it is shared with later in life - in terms of connecting the dots of God's holiness, our rebellion in failing to love such a good, great and gracious creator, God's amazing rescue in sending Jesus, his overwhelming love in dying in our place, and our glorious victory over sin and death that we share with Christ at his resurrection and wait to experience fully.
But I think there is another hugely significant result of this that we are missing. We cannot assume that when someone comes to faith they have a biblical understanding of relationships, marriage, parenting, finances, care for parents, business conduct and so on. I grew up in a church where many of those things were assumed, you grew up with discipling parents and you learnt those things - but what if I hadn't had that?
If most of those who come to faith now have not experienced any of that we must incorporate those things into our discipleship or young disciples. How? I don't think classes are the best way to do it. In 1 Thessalonians Paul talks about how he and his team shared their lives with the Thessalonians as they discipled them to faith and then onto maturity. They lived life out right in their midst, they let them see what it meant to live following Jesus.
We need a huge shift in how we think about discipleship if we are not just to see people won for Christ but then floundering in terms of what that means for them. We dare not let people muddle through but we need to model it through for them.
It comes back to the key being gospel community, we need to be sharing our lives with one another enabled to do so because we understand the deep deep love of Jesus which liberates us from the tiny confines of 'my kingdom' to deeply love my brother in THE kingdom.