Thabiti Anyabwile is an African-American pastor, former Muslim, and a wise and truly biblical thinker for our age. God has raised him up and is using him to help the Church in America think rightly about itself.
In his 2008 book published by Crossway Books under the title What is a Healthy Church Member? he begins his first chapter with a break-your-heart story. At least, I hope it breaks your heart.
Jenny surprised me when she started crying during our membership interview. The first twenty minutes of the interview were fairly routine. She recounted her childhood growing up in a Christian home, her high school years filled with fear, and a period of living as a prodigal during college. Then she recalled with some joy her conversion experience in a hometown local church.
So I did not expect her to sob at the question, ‘How was that church for you spiritually? Did you grow there?’
After pausing for a moment, she explained, ‘I expected that after my conversion someone would have helped me to grow as a Christian.’ She continued with a distinct trace of confusion and anger: ‘But it was as if people put me in a corner somewhere, as if they expected me to figure things out on my own. It was a terrible and lonely time.’” [Bold emphasis added]
This breaks my heart because it is a clear example of a church that had no process of ministry for making disciples—which is the number one task of the church (see Matthew 28:16-20).
Babes in Christ need nurture to “grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). We can be busy doing a lot of things in the church, . . . a lot of good things, but if we aren’t multiplying disciples, we aren’t being faithful to Christ and the results are catastrophic:
- People stay broken and stalled in their growth toward Christlikeness
- The gospel’s power to change lives is muted
- The Kingdom of God is anemically expressed
- God does not receive the glory due His name
- The world is not confronted with the truth of the gospel
People of God,
.. Israel of God,
… redeemed of the Lord …
… we must do better.
We simply must give attention and effort to caring for and loving the people of God with all their baggage and demands, with all their heartbreak and brokenness, with all their foibles and follies. If we don’t, we defame Him who died for us and rose for us and lives and reigns for us, and is coming back for us, because He has forgiven us and made us His own possession (Titus 2:14).
Beloved at Manchester Creek Community Church, we will. Looking forward to the year 2017 and the equipping of the flock for the works of the ministry.