After more than 40 years of ministry in local churches and service on the mission field, my heart continues to be broken over what Greg Ogden, in his book Transforming Discipleship, calls – the discipleship deficit! It is like the “elephant in the room” we don’t know what to do with. Like the television commercial for a particular brand of lung function medication – the discipleship deficit elephant is sitting on the chest of the churches, crushing the life out of them. We have been somewhat successful in making good church members, good choir members, good committee members, and to some degree, regular attendees to our church services.
However, we are woefully lacking when it comes to making disciples, who in turn, make disciples, who in turn, make more disciples. The bottom line is we are not making disciples according to the pattern found in the New Testament.
The discipleship deficit is not the real problem, however.
As I struggled over the past several years trying to find a way to help churches address this discipleship deficit, I discovered that in addition to the discipleship deficit, we have a serious Gospel deficiency in our churches as well.
What do I mean by “Gospel deficiency?” We are good at telling people what they should do, what they should not do, and what they should believe; but what they need more than anything else is to simply hear the Gospel and apply it to their lives. Because of our sinful nature, we need a Gospel-saturated diet. Every day we need to remind each other of the Gospel, and help each other apply the Gospel to our lives. As we fight sin and its effects in our lives, we need the Gospel. The problem is, we are not getting enough Gospel, and our churches suffer from “GDA” Gospel Deficiency Anemia!
In my quest for a solution to our discipleship and Gospel deficiencies, I discovered an even more serious problem – a failure to give God the glory He deserves. When our focus is on what we “do” or “don’t do” as a follower of Christ, it is easy to forget the one thing were created to do – glorify God!
Failing to making disciples is a matter of great concern. Not focusing on the Gospel is a grave problem. More serious than either of these deficits, however, is our failure to glorify the Father.
Glorifying God is the heart and soul of everything we do! It is the reason we exist! It is the primary purpose of the church! It is the lens through which we see and serve our world. Glorifying God is the filter through which every decision, every goal, and every strategy must pass.
Is God honored by our choices, and by the decisions we make every day? Is His greatness revealed in the way we serve each other? Do we magnify Him in the way we love those around us?
The Apostle Peter said, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9 NIV)
Nothing else matters if we fail to glorify God! Our lack of glorifying God is a real problem, and it is in need of immediate action.