Over on Facebook yesterday, Neil Cole started a discussion that was quite lengthy with a retweet of @lanceford: If North American pastors worked as hard at Disciple-making as they do on Sermon-making we could change the world//Prob true! I’m not sure if the “Prob true!” comment is Neil’s or Lanceford’s. The Discussion went on for quite a while and was stimulating on its own merits but, then late in the day Neil made the following comment on the tweet.
I do not think preaching is bad, I just don’t think it makes a disciple. It informs and even at time inspires, but a sermon is no replacement for just God’s word. The problem is that we often think that the sermon is God’s word but it is simply a message about God’s word. I think preaching sermons is a lazy man’s way to make disciples.
I thought the comment was too much, especially the last sentence. So I responded. Neil responded and I responded back. Hopefully tomorrow he and I and others will join the discussion and work toward some helpful clarity for the body of Christ. Meanwhile, here is the rest of the exchange up to this point. What do you think?
Marty Schoenleber JrNeil, I have a lot of respect for you but that last comment is way over the top. You have jumped the shark brother. No qualifiers. Not “many” or “most” or “the majority”, just the statement that “sermons are a lazy man’s way to make disciples.” Frankly, you would have to be God himself to make this statement. It’s too much and it’s not fair to your brothers who are laboring in the Lord’s vineyard.
Some of us are working hard at both preaching AND investing our lives in one-to-one disciple-making. We labor over the text because we believe that part of disciple-making is equipping the saints by teaching, and exampling, and inspiring them to live passionately for and like Christ. But we also know that Jesus’ pattern was to couple with his preaching an intense and intentional “withness” with those who he was seeking to form in Christ. We know that he who bought us expects us to live sacrificially for and among those within whose community’s we have been sovereignly placed by Christ.
We know that the congregations we preach to must see a living reality of Jesus’ and Paul’s model in our lives if they too are to follow us as we follow Christ. Make your point. It’s a good one. But don’t insult those who also labor for the kingdom. There is no need to argue for an either/or. There is an extraordinary need to argue for what is missing in some pastors/churches discipleship process but pendulum swings tend to promote equal but opposite imbalances.
No its not over the top, it is putting it in the proper perspective. Making disciples involves WAAAAAY more than preaching a sermon. And the person who thinks that they are making disciples by just preaching sermons is not in the game. I am not insulting people I’m just saying that those who spend their lives only preparing sermons and preaching them are not making disciples, they are making sermons. You must BE with people to make disciples.
I love to preach but I learned a long time ago that another sermon will not make another disciple. We MUST get into people’s lives brother, there is no short cut, that’s what I mean by the lazy man’ way. Those who think that they are making disciples by just preaching sermons are deceived. It’s not meant as an insult, but it is also not a soft point to make. Preach. BUT do not think that alone is making a congregation of disciples, because it isn’t…it hasn’t…and if we keep deceiving ourselves that way we will continue to produce passive and unengaged consumer Christians.
But that’s my point. I didn’t say we could make disciples without being with them either. There was a very intentional and intense “with me” character to Jesus’ (and Paul’s) disciple-making process. Absolutely, no question. Jesus called who he wanted that they might be WITH HIM, that he might send them out to preach (Mark 3:12-14). Indisputable. I agree. He suffered with them; he and they had no place to lay their heads; in their uprising, their down sitting, walking-along-the-path-lifestyle he was no doubt doing and living out the kingdom in the midst of them.
Discipleship that isn’t fleshed out like this is shallow and mostly ineffective. Agreed. You have a good point. But part of that process of forming them while living with them was them observing and hearing A LOT of preaching. Preaching by itself, doesn’t fully form disciples. But to say what you said went beyond that, especially your last sentence. Your phraseology makes it seem like you have some kind of spiritual x-ray on the motivations of a every other preacher you know … I think you are wrong brother.
I’m not saying that preaching pastors shouldn’t do more, indeed, I think they are doing too many trivial things to really maximize their time with men and making disciples, life on life. Many do rely on preaching too much. But it was a major part of Jesus’s own discipleship methodology, ALONG WITH, life on life, grinding it out in the trenches of the dirt and squalor and pain and joys of life.