I am in a Dmin program at the local Seminary. Last week I took a course on ‘Leadership in Spiritual Formation.’ I was shocked (and delighted) that the prof, an executive pastor in a mega-church, has found himself on a journey to the church fathers and the ancient practices of ascesis as described by the Desert Fathers.
Recently, Willow Creek Church has put out a study based on a collection of surveys called Reveal, which ‘revealed’ that much of what Willow has done (mega, super size, seeker everything) has not formed disciples. In fact, they found that those involved most in church activities were the least ‘formed’ of the ranges of people that pass through their ‘big barn.’
It is easy to pick on the consumerism of mega-churches, but even our best churches (of all traditions) are finding it more and more difficult to make disciples who are mature and passionate about Jesus.
We all know that if we ‘did it like the apostles’ we would be great. The second century catechumanate would be outstanding. But in the land that produces the most Christian materials, that has access to more discipleship ‘stuff’ than any other culture in the history of the world, we can’t seem to make disciples. In fact, by population, we are becoming more and more ‘unchurched’ and are in need of missionaries to us!