September 2, 2014
FIRST-PERSON: A tragic neglect
Eric Geiger
Posted on Feb 20, 2014

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NASHVILLE (BP) -- One of my mentors, Brad Waggoner*, noticed a major shift in church ministry in the early '90s when "senior pastors of churches broke up with their discipleship pastors/ministers of education and ran off with the worship pastor."

Of course, a senior pastor does not need to choose between the two. Both the worship ministry and the discipleship ministry of a church are vitally important to the health of the church and the maturation of believers.

In many contexts, however, love for the discipleship ministries of the church has grown cold. The big gathering, with her flashing lights and carefully designed stage, has been a seductress to some.

This is tragic, because God matures His people in biblical community. The ministry of a church must be much more than a gathering on Sunday.

How do you know if your heart has left the discipleship ministries of your church? Perhaps the following questions will help.

-- Do you spend disproportionately more time in conversations about the weekend worship service than about the discipleship process at your church?

-- Do you know what is being taught in your groups or classes?

-- Do you treat the teaching your people receive outside of Sunday -- teaching done by others -- with the same concern you view "the weekend"?

-- Is it enough to "have groups" or do you want your groups built on the solid foundation of the Word?

A church exists to make disciples. Clearly this mission includes the worship gatherings, and it definitely goes beyond them.

Please note I am not suggesting that the weekend gatherings are not important or advocating senior pastors break up with their worship leaders. Nor am I saying discipleship does not occur in worship gatherings as the Word is taught and people are brought into the presence of Jesus.

I am, however, saying it is tragically unhealthy when the discipleship ministries of a church are minimized and neglected.
Eric Geiger is a vice president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, leading the church division. This column first appeared on his blog at *Brad Waggoner is executive vice president of LifeWay.
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