Crisis of Discipleship

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I recently read an article that quotes Richard Foster in saying that “superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for more intelligent people nor gifted people, but for deep people.”

We live in an age where there is a crisis of discipleship. People long for growth but they do not understand for what they are longing. People want depth but they are not willing to dedicate the time necessary to experience it. And for those who understand their longing and are willing to work for their wants, there is not enough available instruction in ways for experiencing growth and achieving depth.

We know that the upcoming generations desire more from church and from faith and there has been a decades-long, ongoing scramble to provide the answers that will satisfy this insatiable need for more. We relax our worship service. We build a coffee bar and a gathering area. We form the church band and even go so far as to install and choreograph a concert-like light show—sometimes even accompanied with fog machines to add to the atmosphere of anticipation and excitement.

We realize there is a need for warmth and depth of feeling and so we lumber about trying to manufacture it as best we can imagine.

But the jury has returned its verdict and it is not good. Manufactured depth of soul may cater to our modern society’s desire for instant gratification, but it is a mirage. It does not exist. As soon as the spotlights stop, the guitar dies down, and the house lights come up . . . We are all still missing something genuine and that momentary flash of feeling quickly dissipates with the fog.

We need the experience of God and He is not found in the roar of the stage. He is to be found in the stillness of those portions of our lives that we are willing to save back for Him, set aside for Him, and dedicate to Him and our living in His Presence.

We need and can learn to slow down and find God in the everyday, in the simple, in the mundane. It requires effort and it necessitates direction. But this experience of God is like a trailing vine, which can branch and spread and curl throughout our lives. We find God in the quietness and we plant a seed. That seed grows. And like training honeysuckle to climb a trellis, we can invite the outgrowth of that seed to permeate every moment.

God then becomes not the God of quiet moments; He becomes the God of every moment. And we can find depth in the every day tasks we take for granted, realizing there is a spirituality to every breath we take and a holy consecration of every decision we make.

We became Christians because we felt a hole and realized it was a God-shaped hole we were longing to fill. That was an event. But actually filling that hole is a practice; it is a journey to find God and become like Christ.

I believe there is a process that can be taught to encourage the experience of God in every moment of our lives and bring about the development of the deep people over whom Richard Foster opined. I believe it starts in our churches and it does not necessitate revamping our worship service to do so. First we need to explore this desire deep within us, give it a name. And, once named, we provide it a place in our congregations. We train disciples to become disciplers, to experience the divine and spread that joy.

We don’t need another gifted speaker or intelligent apologist, we need deep people to fill our foyers to meet others where they are at and walk beside them in their efforts to fill the emptiness that created in them the questions they are echoing in the darkness of their lives.

And Love. We need Love. And we find all that by finding Him.