The western church is good at many things: Facilities; trained staff; worship experiences; programming and good preaching. From an external perspective it is in many cases impressive. However, our focus on all these good things comes at the expense of the one most central and important thing which is that of disciplemaking. It is both the greatest failure and greatest opportunity of the church today.
Why the greatest failure? Because only deeply committed disciples of Christ will make a difference in our world for Him. It is those individuals who live out their faith in their family, workplace and in the circles in which they have influence. Much of what passes for Christianity is more window dressing than it is a committed followership where people understand and live out grace, allow their thinking to be brought into alignment with Scripture, align their priorities with those of Christ and see people as Jesus sees them and love them as He loves them.
Furthermore we have substituted life on life influence and impact for classes and intellectual knowledge which is not the route to lifestyle change nor the model given us by Jesus and Paul. Disciplemaking is simply another program in our church (an app) rather than the heart of all that we do (the operating system). And if one examines the typical commitments of the typical "Christian" we see that it is not an effective model. It may train people in certain behaviors but it does not lead to significant life transformation.
Why the greatest opportunity? Because there is nothing more powerful than men and women who have given Jesus everything and want to please Him and represent Him in all that they do. These are world changers. They are world changers empowered by the Holy Spirit who are powerful change agents precisely because of their followership of Jesus.
How did they become what they became? Usually not because of a church with great preaching or programs (although I appreciate both). Rather, because like Jesus with His disciples, someone took them alongside them and either formally or informally deeply influenced their life and priorities toward those of Jesus. Not a set of rules but a way of life. Not to become like them but to become like Jesus. Not through a program but through a process - a journey of becoming more like Jesus.
Disciple making, if it is going to be effective must move:
From a program to a process
From the class room to life on life
From one size fits all to customized
From optional to an expectation
From clergy led to everyone's involvement
From intellectual knowledge to life transformation and application
From being discipled to also being a disciplemaker
From "listen to me" to "do with me"
Remember, it is disciples in a Jesus sense who change the world!
(Written from Berlin, Germany)