Church Leadership
Does Attracting A Crowd Make Discipleship Harder?
Going along with the crowd has never been the Jesus way. Standing apart from the crowd? Now that sounds like Jesus.

It’s About Ministry Priorities, Not Crowd Size

It’s not that I’m against big crowds or big churches. Not at all. I have been blessed many times by the teaching and worship in large gatherings of believers.

This isn’t about the size of the crowd. It’s about the mentality that makes gathering any crowd of any size such a high priority.

Jesus didn’t prioritize crowds, he prioritized the people in them.

So how have we fallen into the trap of thinking that attracting a crowd is the best introduction to discipleship?

  • Habit?
  • Tradition?
  • Showmanship?
  • Ego?

Maybe some combination of all of them, plus a few others I haven’t considered.

No Crowd Is “Our” Crowd

Jesus knew people. And he loved them

He also knew crowds. And he didn’t trust them (John 2:23-24).

Jesus distanced himself from crowds. Not just to draw away for quiet moments of reflection, but as a general rule.

But, too often, we love crowds and distance ourselves from the people in them.

That’s not a recipe for discipleship. It’s a recipe for ego. Most of us are convinced we can use a crowd as long as it’s our crowd. Our people. Done our way.

Which makes it worse than ego. It’s arrogance.

A crowd can be gathered quickly and entertained easily, but never make the mistake of thinking they’re your crowd, because they can turn on you in a heartbeat.

Jesus’ distrust of crowds ran so deep that he never made the mistake of thinking he could make them his crowd.

Jesus’ distrust of crowds ran so deep that he never made the mistake of thinking he could make them his crowd.

Whenever the disciples, or even his own brothers suggested he leverage the crowd for power, he rejected their premise outright (John 7:1-10).

He didn’t see crowds as masses to be leveraged. He saw the individuals in them as “sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).

The crowds were more likely to make Jesus weep than rejoice.

Jesus taught crowds. But he discipled people. In small batches, not massive groups.

Because that’s how discipleship works.

Slow, Small Discipleship

We’re not called to gather crowds, we’re called to disciple people.

Discipleship is slow. And small.

It’s about narrowing your focus, not growing your brand.

Developing relationships, not entertaining a crowd.

Jesus didn’t chase crowds. He discipled a handful of people. Who discipled others.

And they turned the world upside-down.

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The views of the blogger do not necessarily reflect those of Christianity Today.

February 22, 2018 at 3:00 AM

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