If I’m talking for an hour a week, and they’re feeding their souls with something else 15 hours a week,” Bezner said, “I simply can’t win.”
A pastor’s life depends on a coronavirus vaccine. Now he faces skeptics in his church. Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Washington Post. Dec. 11, 2020 (web).
One of the reality checks that “the church” received during the COVID-19 restrictions is that the “teaching” done on Sundays isn’t enough. There has long been an assumption that people show up, so they must be being spiritually trained and discipled.
The Small Group movement had some recognition that this wasn’t actually true. However, many churches used small groups more as an attraction and assimilation rather than inculcation. In other words, always focusing on felt needs and “interest” issues resulted in people untrained and undiscipled.
There are many folks who talk about “consumer” Christianity. This might well be it. Bezner makes a solid point, and it has come to prominence in certain “church” circles. So, what are we doing for the remaining 167 hours a week (which is way more than Bezner’s 15 hours)?
In the COVID-19 environment, churches are building out Facebook—and other platform—groups. Churches are posting large amounts of pithy pictures and sayings. A church page may be getting likes, but likes do not equal engagement.
Engagement is the new “buzzword”. That doesn’t invalidate it. On the contrary, “engagement” has become part of the necessary language due to how social media works (especially, Facebook).
However, what has been happening is that somehow engagement has become an assumption that people have been discipled. Engagement does not equal discipleship.
The hardest part about North American and European Christians is that discipleship has a cost, and most do not want to pay it. The cost? Time.
This may not be a battle the church can win. That sounds depressing. This also may be the truth that sets the church free.
The church has been running with blinders for too many decades. Even, it seems, its “faithful” are not quite the “faithful” that the Scriptures have in mind. Nickels and noses is no longer adequate (and it really never was). Engagement may be marginally better than nickels and noses.
Even so, the church and all Christians are called to make disciples.