When it comes to church we need a better gauge, discipleship. Discipleship is not about knowing who’s there, but knowing what’s inside.
The whole fiasco started when our shower water went instantaneously from a pleasant, warm temperature to Antarctica. We have a tankless water heater, so running out of hot water is not an issue for us unless something stops working.
I went outside and checked the gauge on our propane tank. The gauge read, 70 percent. A sickening feeling settled into my stomach as I began to imagine the repair/replacement cost of our tankless system.
A repairman came out. “No flame, have you checked your propane tank?”
In my mind, I’m thinking, “I’m paying you for this,” but out of my mouth came a cordial, “Yes, I checked it, 70 percent.”
“Well, we have to order a replacement part. Three days.”
There is no cash register in our basement, but I know I heard a distinct “Cha-ching.”
Two days later, I smelled gas. Before it exploded, I called the gas company and they came out to check for a leak.
The guy walked up to our door and asked, “Have you checked your propane tank?”
Across my mind scrolled these words, “We had 70 percent gas in the tank on Sunday, but now there seems to be about 30 percent in our kitchen.”
But instead, I replied again with the cordial, “70 percent.”
They ran their tests. No leak.
So Mr. Propane said, “Let’s check your tank. Sometimes when it runs low, it can produce an odor, and it makes you think that you have a leak.”
Suite yourself Mr. Propane.
So Mr. Propane checks our gauge, and as I said all along, 70 percent.
But then he tapped the gauge with a hammer. The needle fell from 70 percent to 0 percent as quickly as my shower went from Florida to Antarctica.
Mr. Propane replaced the gauge to assure that we have a more accurate reading of what’s going on inside the tank.
When it comes to church attendance, we are losing ground. Studies show that our students are not only eventually leaving home, but leaving the church. We have all witnessed those people who started well in their walk with Christ, but like my gauge, when tapped, they went from 70 percent to zero.
Perhaps we need to replace the church attendance gauge with something that gives us a better reading of what’s going on inside the tank. The better gauge is discipleship.
And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
2 Tim. 2:2
Discipleship is not just attending a worship service or a class together, but spending time together. Discipleship is actively studying Scripture rather than passively listening to preaching and teaching. In discipleship, a person is not just counted. Discipleship is consistent Scripture-centered conversations about what’s going on within a person.
The Bible gives us no warrant to scrap corporate worship, preaching, or assembling for teaching, but we do need a better gauge. We need more than just attenders. We need to make disciples who make disciples.
My suggestion is to read 2 Timothy 2:1-7.
- List the commands in the passage. Obey them.
- What does this passage teach us about discipleship?
- What principles will you apply today?
If you are not already, ask God to lay someone on your heart that you can meet with on a regular basis. Use these devotional challenges as content for discipleship. Build one another up and challenge one another week by week to modify behavior and become more like Christ.