Sermons without discipleship tell people about Jesus without training them to hear Him, follow Him, and daily obey Him. Continually preaching to the same people creates an audience mentality and trains Christians to be observers, not participants. That audience mentality makes it difficult for Christians to grow up into a mature relationship with the risen Jesus.
I believe that the purpose of preaching is to proclaim the Gospel and to prepare the way for people to receive the risen Jesus into their hearts and lives. Once people receive the living Jesus, they need to be discipled (trained) to personally hear and obey Him, to read the Bible with an open heart and let it transform their lives, to actively love and minister to one another, to operate in the gifts of the Spirit, to live a godly lifestyle that manifests the fruit of the Spirit, to serve and preach the Gospel to unbelievers, and to disciple other believers. Preaching begins the process of discipleship and spiritual growth, but it isn’t discipleship. Preaching proclaims Jesus, but discipleship trains people to pursue the risen Jesus with all their heart. The body of Christ is overrun with preaching, but has a desperate need for discipleship.
The measure of a Christian life is not Bible knowledge or frequency of sermon-hearing, but daily obedience to the risen Jesus. Discipleship needs a relational, interactive environment. It won’t happen in a lecture, spectator environment.
Spiritual leadership isn’t rulership, but heart-to-heart fellowship, personal relationship, and interactive discipleship. True disciples are not held under religious or organizational control, but are freed up to follow Jesus wherever He may lead. Discipleship is a lifetime journey away from the kingdom of self and into the kingdom (rulership) of God.
Christianity is about living a Christ-led lifestyle, not about sitting awhile in church. When a Christ-like lifestyle is continually produced in & manifested through a person’s life, that is discipleship.
True disciples dance only to Christ’s tune, not to the tune of the world around them. It’s easy to believe in Christ — not so easy to be His disciple.
Here’s the Christian challenge: To move from being an audience of Sunday spectators to an army of radically sold-out disciples.