“When it comes to the church, the object of the game is to make disciples.
The object is not to find them, gather them, or improve them. The object is to make them.”
John Edmund Kaiser
Kaiser continues in his book, Winning On Purpose, that the reason – the primary reason – that many churches are in trouble today is that they have forgotten the object of the game. The object of the game is to make disciples. When that object, or purpose, is forgotten, church members become lost in much activity, much of it good activity. But it is not the object of the game. Jesus states that the object of the game is to make disciples.
Another way of looking at it, asserts Kaiser, is that the object is all about the inflow of people beginning their relationship with Christ. That is measured by the number of professions of faith that results in baptism or persons making a reaffirmation of faith, meaning that they are starting again. Transfer of Church letter as a means of receiving new members isn’t bad. They represent more disciples to advance the mission of the local church. It’s just that transfers can’t legitimately be counted as additional disciples for the kingdom. They have simply transferred from there to here.
So what happens in many churches? Kaiser says that when the primary object is forgotten, the focus turns to any number of things, such as pastoral care, Christian education, fellowship activities and keeping the people happy. None of these activities are bad in themselves. Trouble is, says Kaiser, these activities are not really making disciples but merely servicing disciples in a way that makes them comfortable. And the supreme danger sign for the church is when the leaders no longer count how many new people came to the Lord in a given year but how much care was given, lessons taught and fellowship activities offered.
A new scorecard is required! If First Presbyterian Church of Delray Beach is committed to God’s supreme purpose – making disciples of Jesus Christ – then greater attention must be given to the practice of ministry. Pastoral care, teaching and preaching are still important. So are opportunities for simply gathering together to enjoy each other like our recent Dancing with the Stars. Yet, none of these accomplish making new disciples for Jesus. The challenge before your elected leaders is praying deeply and thinking broadly about what must be done to become a disciple-making church. Your prayers for our leaders are coveted and appreciated.