Discipleship Wanes When Christianity is Popular

I’m reading Longing for Spring: A New Vision for Wesleyan Community by Elaine A. Heath and Scott T. Kisker. I was challenged by the authors’ description of discipleship when Christianity is popular.

In its earliest days, Christianity was at times “illegal and semi-covert” until the conversion of Constantine in A.D. 312. Constantine made Christianity legal in A.D. 313. This single act changed the character of the church. Rather than counting the cost of discipleship, it became “socially advantageous to be a Christian. Discipline lagged. The church began playing the world’s game.”

The authors contend …

The change in the character of Christianity brought about numerical growth, but not the healthy reproduction of disciples. Like the growth of mainline Christianity after World War II, and of evangelicalism in the 1980s, numerical growth masked the true condition of the church.

Reflection questions:

  1. In Matthew 28, we’re called to “make disciples of Jesus Christ.” Reflect on the similarities and difference of church attendance and discipleship.
  2. In what ways does the church “play the world’s game” today?

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