The latest study from LifeWay Research calls on churches to consider what the Bible says
about the purpose of the church, and once they do, to be prepared to make some
drastic changes if their mission doesn’t line up with scripture.
released earlier this year and co-authored by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer,
suggests that too many churches across the country are working from a
blueprint, or scorecard, that does not reflect the true mission of the church.
Stetzer and Rainer write that the old scorecard — the one most churches use —
only values the “external measures of the three Bs: bodies, budget, and
Bad things happen when that
scorecard is the only measure of church success. “As long as we use it, we will
continue to be inward-focused, program-driven, and church-based in our thinking
and leadership,” writes Reggie McNeal in Missional Renaissance.
According to the LifeWay
study, transformational churches are churches living out their biblical
purpose. They follow a scorecard that reflects the “ultimate measure of the
church,” which is “to see people following Christ and living on mission … at
its essence the new scorecard must measure how well we are making disciples.”
Changing the scorecard and
making disciples is the focus of the 2011 Find it Here: Embracing Christ
emphasis coordinated by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).
Find it Here is a three-year focus on evangelism, discipleship and missions.
This year launched an intentional focus on evangelism, next year focuses on
discipleship, and missions is the 2012 focus.
“In Find it Here North
Carolina, we want to make sure that North Carolina Baptists focus on the
entirety of the Great Commission. Baptizing, teaching them to obey, and to live
out a lifestyle of discipleship and missions,” said Lynn Sasser, BSC Executive
Leader for Congregational Services.
Find it Here seeks to help
equip believers to come alongside new believers and teach them what it means to
live for Jesus Christ. “Conversion marks the beginning of an individual’s
lifetime journey of following Christ,” Sasser said. “As Baptists we have always
celebrated conversion and baptism, as we well should. However, it’s also true
that as Baptists we have often failed in our responsibility to teach new
believers to observe or to obey all that Jesus commanded us to do.”
Churches signing up to
participate in Find it Here commit to:
- praying for disciples
- preaching on
- teaching discipleship in
classrooms and in homes
- making disciples by
participating in the 2011 Easter evangelism emphasis
- becoming disciples
by serving in the community
Churches can sign up at www.finditherenc.org. The site will also include free downloadable
resources to help churches as they carry out these commitments. Resources
include sermon outlines, youth devotion guides and family devotion guides.
Sasser described a disciple
as one who “abides in Christ and does what Jesus did.” Sasser said discipleship
comes in many contexts, such as from the pulpit, during corporate worship,
Sunday School, small groups and personal study.
Discipleship is hard work
because it speaks to every part of a Christian’s life — their lifestyle must be
one that glorifies Christ and seeks to make Him known to others. Churches that
embrace discipleship as a core value will focus on discerning their context and
understanding the community in which they exist, cultivating a missionary
mentality, and being intentional in building relationships and praying.
Chuck Register, BSC
Executive Leader for Church Planting and Missions Development, said
discipleship is more likely to become part of a church ministry’s and focus
when that church and its leadership realizes transformation is the goal. “One
of the things that we must do in Baptist life is to begin to hold up to our
pastors and our churches that the definition of success for ministry is life
transformation,” he said. “It is helping a new believer begin to live, look
like Jesus Christ. And that’s hard work. That’s life on life, iron sharpening
Discipleship is the step
that should naturally come after evangelism, so Find it Here 2011 is a great
way for churches that participated in this year’s Find it Here emphasis to
build on their evangelism efforts.
“The 2010 evangelism
component was our first step. It was like building the foundation of a house,”
said Don McCutcheon, BSC Executive Leader for Evangelization. “This doesn’t
mean that we stop evangelism. It means we’re going to do this all three years.
Hopefully this will become part of a church’s DNA.”
Resources will be online in