Abstract: A Christian mission should train missionaries to have self-discipline and be subordinate to God and to the director as his boss. A missionary who is a half-hearted disciple is a problem to the church. You can train and teach the mind, but God must change the heart.

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Part 2 of the "Reach the World" Series

The Results of Poor Discipling and Church Planting

by Aramus Crane, March 18, 2005
Part 1: Reach the World
Part 2: The Results of Poor Discipling and Church Planting
Part 3: The Uniqueness of Our Message
Part 4: Self-Glorifying Churches Impede the Gospel Message
Often, Christians will blame the hardheartedness of non-believers on Satan.  And they are often right  But William Carey, often viewed as the father of modern missions made an observation in the 19th Century that remains a problem in the 21st.
"In general the heathen have showed a willingness to hear the Word, and have principally expressed their hatred of Christianity on account of the vices of nominal Christians." (Carey W.  "An Enquiry into the Obligation of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens" Perspectives:  A Reader. p. 293) 
Jesus' command did not even end at "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them."  (Matthew 28:19-20)  He continued, "to obey all everything that I have commanded you."  (v. 20)  
The church and ministries are full of nominal Christians.  One of the responsibilities of the church is to train to obey.  Part of that training is discipline.  While I was in the military in the 1980's, part of the transformation of the culture was redefining discipline as training.  Simultaneously, there was a paradigm shift in the families from hitting your child to training her or him.  This was healthy.  Instead of the punishment having nothing to do with the misdemeanor, the discipline began to depend on the offense.  When a soldier was repeatedly late, you didn't give him a toothbrush and make him clean the toilets, you made him arrive an hour earlier than the others for a few days.  If a child disobeyed his parents, ate all the family's Christmas candy and got sick, parents were told not to hit him, but to give him a week with no desert.  This is healthy discipline for anyone who wants to change his life as it more clearly demonstrates that sin has its consequences.  
It is probably not coincidental that God is no longer viewed as one who is always looking to punish us when we step out of line.  As psychologists point out, we tend to shape our perspective of God based on our experience with our parents.  When they react rationally and lovingly teach that sin has its consequences, we tend to confer those qualities more effectively on God.
However, all too often in religious organizations, there is no structure to administer discipline.  People are unwilling to exercise the authority God has given them.  At one mission I witnessed a person who was appointed as leader wrote to a perspective subordinate, "I'm not your boss, I'm not anyone's boss, I don't want to be anyone's boss."  However, headquarters had given him the title of "director".  What does he direct if he doesn't supervise?  A president of another foundation wrote this to a subordinate: 
"I believe God speaks to each person individually.  If God gives someone a vision, that person must be true to that vision, or else risk disobeying God.  It is true that we have a board of directors for [our ministry], but that is mainly because the government requires it in order to maintain our non-profit status....I just mention this because I have serious problems with certain church and ministerial hierarchies."  [emphasis mine]

We have half-hearted Christians because we have half-hearted missionaries.

In both these cases, the corporate culture did not empower the subordinate.  There was no way for the people on the bottom of the hierarchy to voice grievances.  Managers were responsible to nobody.  As can be expected, this manifested itself in no respect for Scriptural teaching.  But some other results were unexpected, namely tyranny, no respect for written contracts, and maltreatment of employees.  There was a high rate of employee turnover and ineffectiveness for the Kingdom.  The missionaries were unmotivated and some were put in supervisory positions they didn't want, so they spent more than half the working day watching CNN, and saw no ethical problem billing donors for this TV-viewing time.  One director told me, "I talked to headquarters and they told me that I'm not obliged to [fulfill my written promise.]"  That a professing believer would have to ask his superiors if he has to be trustworthy and faithful amazes me.  But, it astounds me even more that confessing Christian Vice Presidents would say that missionaries don't need to be faithful and trustworthy to one another!  We have half-hearted Christians because we have half-hearted missionaries.
The lack of motivation by some workers and demotivation that missions organizations inflict on these laborers is a disgrace to Jesus. The strategy of Jesus was much different.  He was focused on people and on relationships of love.  He was focused on the mission of going to the cross and rising again.  Jesus had to be crucified to destroy the power of the Devil ("V-E Day") and his assension and seating at God's right hand is key for our empowering through our co-seating.  (Ephesians 2) Through this event, we have the power to rout the Devil from all his strongholds.  
>From the wedding feast in Cana when Jesus started his ministry until the day that He was put to death, He invested His entire life in the Apostles.  Disciples must be taught, according to Matthew 28:18-20.  He didn't intend that the fulfillment of the Great Commission would be one computer speaking every language through the Internet to all parts of the world.  Although the WorldWideWeb is a valuable media tool for getting out the message, if we only use this impersonal method, we will be ineffective.  Humanity and relationships are His foci.  His means is by love, not by throwing pamphlets out of a helicopter.  
There are too many missionaries out there focused on knowing the right things, having all the right degrees and using all the right techniques.  There are not enough who selflessly love the people to whom they are ministering.  Fewer are teaching people to love or trying to bring love and ethics to the church than are just trying to find a way to support their families. 
They are often so irritable that they create persecution that they mistake for religious persecution.  (See my article "Persecuted Christians May Need Better Skills")  Contrast this to those missionaries who ventured so far as to sacrifice their lives in the line of duty.  Some suffer such damage to their health that they lose years of their lives.
"Even if the Christian is released [from prison] after some time and the actual death occurs at home because of his health having been shattered by the long detention and suffering, I believe that God still reckons the death as a martydom. In our more sophisticated age, martyrdom might also take the shape of an imprisonment in a psychiatric hospital--a modern form of torture that is possibly the most cruel form of martyrdom where one's mental health and even ones' personality are utterly ruined by means of drugs and other psychological torture." (Tson J "Suffering and Martyrdom: God's strategy in the world" Perspectives:  A Reader.  p. 181.)
Part 1: Reach the World
Part 2: The Results of Poor Discipling and Church Planting
Part 3: The Uniqueness of Our Message
Part 4: Self-Glorifying Churches Impede the Gospel Message


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