Let The Churches Die, but Keep Making Disciples

dying-seed1What if church, the gathering of God’s people in a particular local, was supposed to be a temporary thing, a seasonal ecosystem that cycled through life and death, or a snapshot of ecclesiastical, historical, and geographical history. I know, ‘church’ is not a place, it’s a people. We all say that, but still act as if it is a place. Church Planters, if we’re honest, are still primarily about planting places and not people. They have a view towards the long play or extended version of the local church. They speak of ‘5 year plans’ without consideration that God’s purpose for a particular people in a particular place may be much less than that.

Jesus said;

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.”

What if a local church plant had to die in order to produce many new kernels? I’m not wishing ill will towards any local congregation or suggesting that it dies before it’s time from malnourishment, drought, or disease. I’m simply proposing that the local ekklesia (church) may be a lot more temporary than we’re willing to consider. If we were sensitive to the move of the Spirit, we might not spend so much time trying to build containers around His current movements.

A few Questions:

Am I totally off base here?

If we just focused, as a body, on the Making of Disciples, then would it matter if our local churches didn’t last as long as we wanted them to?

How can we know if a local congregation is dying a good death?

0 thoughts on “Let The Churches Die, but Keep Making Disciples

  1. Marshall says:

    The metaphor/parable of death-to-life cannot be adapted to the risen Christ or His body or His Kingdom (includes the ekklesia)… these are never to die again.

    if an ekklesia “dies”, it is that the members knew not Life. But before you or I jump into an autopsy here or there, maybe Father relocated that ekklesia…? such as we sometimes witness where persecuation moves the gathering place by way of some new geography.

    • The ecclesia need not “die”, but I do understand the notion of institutions, buildings, programs, budgets, etc dying. The ‘c’hurch must sometimes die, as the ‘C’hurch, His Body lives.

  2. Chris Martin says:

    “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.”

    I believe Jesus is talking about us dying to self. If we continue to live for ourselves, we will be alone, producing no fruit. If we become love, die to self (which Jesus said to do in order to follow Him), and start manifesting the image of God (love), that will produce more kernels (disciples, believers, etc).

    We were never called to build/plant churches. We were called to follow Jesus.

  3. guy muse says:

    A question I too have often explored over the past few years. We are never commanded to plant churches. Jesus said to make disciples. It is His business to ‘build His Church’ it is ours to ‘make disciples.’ If we will do our part, he can certainly be counted upon to do his! One of the biggest agonies of our years in Ecuador has been to see so many church plants “fail”. I don’t think I ever connected Jesus’ words in John about the kernel needing to die in order to see many new kernels planted, but it makes sense in the church planting context. Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

  4. Heather Bradley says:

    The church needs to move because God moves. Sometime “church” is so routine that it is just a habit. The Holy Spirit is dead in that congregation because people have not allowed God to move. Sometimes the Holy Spirit is smothered because people are afraid to let the Holy Spirit move… Freely.
    The discipleship is not true discipleship… Not teaching God’s word…but teaching other christian opinions about the Bible…
    When discipleship is a conversation that is Biblical with a Purpose for Growth in Christ. That conversation can take place anywhere, on a bus is Ecuador or standing in the parking lot after a church service or on Facebook.
    When a church is dying to itself it is dying in the Holy Spirit…

  5. David Woods says:

    Or what if it was like a university, where you were discipled, then moved on to God’s plan for your life? A University where the staff was also cycled through as students became teachers, and principles, and school boards, and the sermons never had a chance to get too “deep” because they were constantly having to “start over” for a new set of converts? A place where people meet for the milk, but gathered elsewhere for the meat according to their own callings, and giftings? A place where….

    Nah, nevermind…way too much to hope for.

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