Within the last 12 months, two people have shared very similar stories with me. Unfortunately, these stories are not encouraging. But, I’m afraid that they are becoming more and more common. I’ll briefly share the last story.
I had lunch with a business associate. After we talked about web sites and such, he said he wanted to talk to me about something church related.
He said that he had met many people around the city of Raleigh through his business connections. He had a desire to introduce these people to Christ and to help them live in community with one another and those around them. He wanted to begin getting together with those who were interested in the gospel of Jesus Christ and disciple them as they shared their lives together.
Now, this friend is part of a church in the Raleigh area. He approached one of his pastors with this idea. He explained his desire to disciple people and help them live in community with Christ and with one another.
The pastor said, “No.” It’s true. My friend was told that he could not do this. He was given three reasons: 1) Whatever my friend did, he would need to work through his local church and their Bible study programs. 2) My friend would have to go through his church’s Bible study program leadership training routine. 3) My friend’s group would have to focus on promoting their church.
My friend was dumbfounded. He was expecting encouragement and support from this leader. He said that he had heard the pastors talk about reaching their city with the gospel. It now seemed that was not their only (or primary?) interest.
Like I said, this is not an isolated instance. Another good friend ran into the same kind of resistance when he and some friends wanted to start evangelizing and discipling their neighborhood. Their leaders told them, “No,” because they would have to go through their church programs, and there was no one in leadership available to oversee their endeavor.
May I speak directly to those in leadership who feel threatened by this kinds of plan? I know that you feel you are protecting people and building your organization for the glory of God. But, if you ever stand in the way of someone evangelizing and making disciples because it’s not going through your organization, then know that you are standing in opposition to God, not with him.
If someone approaches you with a desire to disciple those around them and live in community in Christ with them, either help, or get out of the way!