Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer on Discipleship

I have already posted three times about Michael Spencer’s first and last book Mere Churchianity:

Today, we will be looking at Spencer’s understanding of a disciple of Jesus. He is rightly concerned about people who merely make a declaration of faith in Jesus without exhibiting any evidence of transformation:

Jesus’ assignment to the apostles was not to get people to respond to an altar call but to make disciples of all nations. And he defined that as being taught to obey everything he commanded. Obedience is action, not merely a set of beliefs.Read more at location 1642

A Kingdom-seeking disciple lives in the light of the cross and in the grace of the perfect Mediator and dies confessing that Jesus has defeated death.Read more at location 1673

Of course, one of Jesus’ commands is that we love each other, and to do that we must be in the community of the Church. As far as I understand, Spencer never actually left the organized church himself, he was just more sympathetic towards those who do than I am. Please don’t misunderstand me, a big part of the history of the kind of churches I am involved in, is that they often start with some people who leave another church. But they leave a church to start another. Often that church is a house church initially, but it might well grow to become a warehouse church if that is what God intends! But, Spencer is dead right that the goal must be genuine discipleship, and not mere decisions or bottoms on seats. As he puts it:

Much of what passes for proclaiming Jesus is, in actuality, churches concerned with attracting large numbers on Sunday mornings, directing financial resources toward church budgets, and showing Christians how to get in synch with church activities. What’s needed is a wave of churches that are committed to helping you become a missionary Read more at location 2588

Ouch! Once again Spencer hits the nail on the head, a little too accurately for comfort! But later he goes somewhat further than I would be comfortable doing. It is far too easy to point the finger at others, by making an accusation that probably is true in some cases and then assuming that it is true everywhere:

Many of us are convinced we have already heard every sermon that’s out there. We are familiar with the same one hundred moral exhortations, the same life lessons, and the same theological necessities. We all can list the typical spiritual demands, spoken by one hundred pastors attempting to sound just like their favorite superstar pastor. We are weary of the same one hundred convenient half-truths—the acceptable, agreed-upon untruths. We have heard evangelicalism’s prosperity promises and its prevarications and protests at least one hundred times. Those of us who started attending church at a young age and have kept at it over the years could preach the standard sermons as well as most of the persons in the pulpit. We’ve heard the same script delivered with different spins. It is overwhelmingly all the same, and it is not the life we want.Read more at location 2769

Spencer also argues that, for all our evangelical pride about being Bible-focused, we don’t actually trust the Spirit to speak to ordinary Christians through the Word:

The biblical notion that the Holy Spirit might prompt a person while reading Scripture terrifies large numbers of evangelicals. The Holy Spirit is great in theory, but when he starts actually doing things, you never know when the situation might get out of control.Read more at location 1998

Perhaps Spencer does have a point, but I repeat, the answer is NOT to give up on the church but to work to make her better!

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock is a medical doctor, a writer, and a member of Jubilee Church, London since 1995, where he serves as part of the leadership team alongside Tope Koleoso. Together they have written Hope Reborn - How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus, published by Christian Focus. Adrian is also the author of Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything, published by Crossway. Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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