You will find in nearly every church that 20 per cent of its members are doing 80 per cent of the work. Hence, the term “20/80”. But the fact of the matter is that the percentage of committed Christians in most churches is less than 20 per cent. In my opinion, this phenomenon is our own doing. And instead of discouraging it, we have encouraged it, even approved of it through our practices.
How did it start?
I believe that it all started when we (the church) decided to adopt an “Open Door” concept where everyone and anyone was welcome to visit and remain in our churches, when we decided that we would by all means save some.
Though this is not wrong or unscriptural in and of itself, admittedly, it has affected the effectiveness of our churches in more ways than one.
For one, it has affected, mostly negatively, discipleship in the church.
While pastors want their flock to be true disciples of Christ, he knows that not all his members are ready. They are all over the place in terms of spiritual maturity and life stages. This poses a challenge to the pastor when it comes to feeding and leading the church. He must think of programs and activities that cater to every category of members. This is a very tall order. It is a necessary evil to keep the flock contented and from leaving the fold.
In preaching, pastors have resorted to pitching their sermons somewhere at the middle (wherever that is). In doing so, the spiritually mature are not edified. Over time their spiritual growth becomes stunted. The more initiated ones will find “food” outside the church.
Most churches will experience growth in numbers. Some faster than others. Sooner or later, churches will be faced with the need to expand and enlarge. When they do, they have only amplified the existing situation, not improved it.
What is the answer to this problem? I believe the answer lies with our Lord Jesus. He said that He is building His church. And if we too are building His church, then shouldn’t we do it His way?
Let us ask ourselves this question: If Jesus had a church today, how would He do it?
Jesus, in a way, had a church while He was on the earth. He ministered to multitudes, but He also had twelve disciples. The twelve were selected after much prayer. There is a spiritual principle here that we all should learn if we are serious about making disciples.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in The Cost of Discipleship, talks about the irresistable Call of Christ. The reason why Peter and Andrew, James and John, and the rest of the twelve were able to leave all and follow Christ was due to the irresistible Call of Christ. It had nothing to do with the level of their intelligence, or with the logic or attractiveness of Christ’s invitation. Jesus Himself stated that no one can come to Him unless he is drawn by the Father (John 6:44).
Last year, while I was conducting a 6-week teaching in church, I gave an invitation to those who would like to embark on the journey of discipleship with me as their guide. I prayed before I gave the invitation. I prayed that only those who heard the Call of Christ would respond. Out of a class of 80, 20 responded, and we had the most profitable time over the next 25 weeks. And, what’s more, there was no attrition. No one dropped out of the journey.
Even though a multitude followed Jesus as He went around preaching and teaching and performing miracles, Jesus never lost focus. His top priority was the twelve. When Jesus preached, His sermons were not pitched to the average person. He preached the truth. Most of the time, the people did not understand what He was really saying; in fact it often offended them. But it didn’t bother Jesus. He had not come to gain popularity. He came to save the world.
What have we learned from Jesus? We learned, firstly, that you should pray and ask the Father who your disciples are. Then make building up your disciples your main focus. Don’t get distracted by the needs of the multitudes. Do what you can. But your disciples come first.