How many conversations have you had about church that have found their way into the arena of disciple-making. You know the kind of thing I mean, the conversations where we talk about focusing on disciples not just conversions, about how we need programmes and strategies to get "our people" into the Scriptures and into a deeper prayer life.
Setting aside the simple truth that programmes are okay, but in truth they don't actually achieve a great deal. Okay that may be an overstatement, but the whole Reveal study that the WCA has done seemed to demonstrate something I've always suspected: people don't grow through programmes, they growth through a deepening personal relationship with God.
This brings me to my question, a question that I wish I had an answer to and one that if I had an answer, and a book, DVD and small group programme available, might make me shining star in the universe of fix-it leaders. Oh yes, the question.
Why is is it that one person will persevere and grow in their faith, despite a whole array of false starts, life challenges, health pressures and other things, whereas another person gives up at the smallest set back or simply drifts away.
I can't fathom it. Even with all the collective know-how of a thousand highly skilled leaders, I still don't think we'd ever fully comprehend why this happens. And it bothers us. Some people think that because we don't bang on about it all the time, we are somehow immune or uncaring about the people that slip out of fellowship and off the discipleship path. Well we do care and we sit broken hearted all too often as we watch the once deeply committed and active fall by the wayside.
And there is so little that we can do about it.
So we pray and we cry and we fast and we weep and we take the hits and the criticisms because we know others miss them too and are bothered and concerned, but they don't know what to do either. And deep inside we know that but for the grace of God we might just find ourselves drifting away from the discipled life we long to cultivate.
So I still don't have an answer to my question, perhaps it is just part of the bigger mystery of the narrative of redemption history.