Dallas Willard once wrote, “Since making disciples is the main task of the church, every church ought to be able to answer two questions: 1) What is our plan for making disciples of Jesus? 2) Is our plan working?”
I love simple and direct words like these. Willard gets right to the point. In these questions he deftly exposes a very real blind spot in our churches. Here’s what I mean: How many of our churches regularly forget to come up with a plan for Sunday morning? If I phoned up 100 Free Methodist Churches on a Sunday morning I am confident I could get 100 clearly stated plans for the Sunday morning service. I’m also confident I could probably get many of those plans in writing. If I phoned up the treasurers of 100 Free Methodist Churches and asked how they planned to spend their money that year I am confident I could get 100 clearly stated answers, itemized by major category, in writing, with last year’s performance included if I so desired.
But honestly, if I phoned 100 Free Methodist Churches today and asked, “what is your plan for making disciples?” I’m really not sure what I would find. Of the churches that could answer, how many of them do you imagine would have that plan in writing? Of those that had a plan in writing how many have a way of measuring if the plan is working or not? Of those that have evaluated their plan, how many have done so recently? There are far too many of our churches whose plan, whether stated out loud or not, goes something like this, “we hope that people get something out of the music and preaching on Sundays.” Full stop. That’s it.
As the Free Methodist Church in Canada faces absolutely massive shifts in the Canadian religious landscape that answer just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Raising an army of people that are basically satisfied with their Sunday morning experience is not going to help us in the new Canada. What we do need are people whose lives have been radically re-shaped by the way of Jesus. That’s what we really need. People whose calendars, priorities, life goals, and wallets can testify to the fact that they are Jesus-centred and others oriented. That’s what we really need. We are going to need disciples who are ready, willing, and able to become missionary servants to our culture. That’s what we really need. If we’re going to get what we really need, our pastors are going to need to insist that our churches have a credible answer to both of Dallas’ questions.
If you are feeling at all challenged by what I’ve just said I want to encourage you. I suggest starting here: take a moment and look at the discipleship survey that we created a few years ago (https://www.fmcic.ca/journey-discipleship-survey/). I am convinced that if you and your leaders can honestly ask, “is our (non)plan working?” you can logically and more easily move on to the question, “what should our new plan for making disciples look like?” We’ve lay out a strategy here step by step. We’ll even have someone available to personally help you walk through the results with your board. While this doesn’t have to be some arduous task, it does have to happen.
Director of Church Planting