Would an investment in people’s spiritual growth have the power to reverse declining Christianity and churches?
American theologian, Dallas Willard, seems to think so. For him, the crux of the matter lies at what is going on inside the Church, in the spiritual lives of its members. He believes that most problems in contemporary Western churches can be explained by the fact that members have never decided to follow Christ as Lord in the first place. He believes that the all-important Biblical mandate to make disciples has been lost, and churches in the West are reaping the consequences. In other words, the growth of healthy churches cannot be separated from the growth of healthy disciples. To grow a church, you must grow the people.
In a 2014 Evangelical Alliance report called, Time For Discipleship? They found that less than one third of those Evangelical Christians said they set aside a substantial period of time for daily prayer. Additionally, 50.5% of Christians said they engage with the Bible daily, and only 40% agree that their church does very well in discipling new believers (a mere 8% in strong agreement). Furthermore, only 26% feel they have been well equipped to witness and share their faith with others, and only 31% feel that that they had a good early experience in being taught good habits and disciplines for their prayer lives.
Clearly churches in the UK need to invest in the spiritual formation in the lives of their members.
Please download the handout for the entire lesson that accompanies the video.
. Evangelical Alliance. 2014. Time for Discipleship? 21st Century Evangelicals: A Snapshot of the Beliefs and Habits of Evangelical Christians in the UK.
. Dallas Willard, The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus’s Essential Teachings on Discipleship (Oxford, England: Monarch Books, 2006), 5.