We had just commissioned 83 new members. It was a proud moment. The newly initiated throng made their way off the platform, while I moved closer to the congregation to begin my sermon.
"This is great, isn't it?" I began. "But before we get too giddy about new members, let me ask you a question. Why should we bring 83 new people into something that isn't working?"
It was the first time in thirty years of ministry I had admitted something I was leading wasn't working. It appeared to be working, but it just wasn't.
"Something is wrong," I said. "It has been tormenting me for several years. All the formulas, strategic planning, mission statements and visionary sermons are not making disciples." Indeed, I was haunted by it. Where was the personal transformation after all the effort we put into weekend services, Bible studies, small groups, and outreach events?
We were stuck in the same rut that so many churches find themselves inreligious activity without real transformation.1