Every year a pair of Porch Finch raise a family in a hanging basket on the front of our house.  This year there are 5 baby finches being raised in a hanging basket of strawberry plants.  I have watch this pair since they arrived a little more than a month ago, scouting out the best place for a nest, busily gathering materials and building their nest, mom laying her 5 precious eggs, then staying on her eggs for a month, and now finally 5 healthy little baby finches!

I was out in the yard today enjoying some sunshine and watching the mom and dad fly back and forth feeding their 5 hungry little mouths.  As I watched them I began to think about Christ's church.  In some ways the church of Jesus Christ is like my little finches, raising their family and sending them out into the world to make and multiply more finches.  Sound familiar?

The Christian and the Christian congregation are similar to my finches in that each is designed, has a mandate from our Creator, to create an environment where multiplication takes place.  In finches we call this reproduction, in the church we call it making disciples.  "As you are going, make disciples of all nations..."  The act of making disciples is to be one of on-going doing and multiplication.

Many congregation today buck the mandate of the Creator.  Instead of making and multiplying disciples, many have somehow been fooled into complacency and have come to think of the church building, and the worship and activities that go on inside the church building, as being the life of the church.  When in fact, the life of the church is much like the life of my little finches; it is the ongoing, repetitive, intentional reproduction and multiplication of disciples.  If we are not reproducing disciples, we are dying.  When that happens in nature it is called extinction, when it happens is our individual Christian walk, and in the life of our congregation, it is called sin.  Not making and multiplying disciples is contrary to the revealed will of God, and is therefore sin.  Plain and simple.

God has created his Church to reproduce, to make disciples.  Here is what I've learned from watching my finches.  The work of laying the foundation for a safe place in which to make disciples takes intentional dedication, and creates a temporary sanctuary from which to be launched into the world.  The finches are dedicated to creating as safe a nest as possible to raise their young, knowing their work is temporary.  The finches don't expect to put down roots and stay in the safety of their sanctuary for long.  In just a couple of weeks the babies will grow and be ready to leave the sanctuary of the nest.  This is the purpose of the nest, to provide for the babies in preparation for them to leave.

When the baby finches leave they go out into the world with one purpose, to make and multiply more finches.  We have rented our house for 5 years, and each year the finches come back to raise another family.  I have no idea if the finches here this year are the original mom and dad, or if we are playing host to one of their children.  One thing is clear, the cycle will continue again this year with the multiplication of new finches being raised up and sent out into the world, to multiply and raise up more new finches.  If the finches ever decide that they would rather put down roots and stay in the sanctuary of their nest, they are doomed.

God shows us in nature what he intends for His church.  Like the sanctuary of my finch's nest, the church of Jesus Christ is designed to be a safe place where disciples are raised, multiplied, and then released out into the world to continue the cycle of multiplication.  If we decide to stay in the safety of our sanctuary, we are doomed.

I believe that Jesus is calling his church to repent for refusing to follow his mandate to reproduce and multiply disciples.  We are being called to repent of making the sanctuary our permanent place of safety and rest, rather than a temporary place where we are safe to be feed and strengthened for the real work of multiplication. I pray each of God's people, lay and clergy, would have soft hearts, eyes to see and ears to hear, so that we may repent and return to our first love who is calling us to leave the sanctuary of the nest and multiply disciples. 

If you desire to see your congregation multiply disciples, and see disciples multiplied in your own life, I'd love to talk to you about ways you can begin to make that happen.  You can Contact me for more ideas and ways to make and release disciples.
James The Elder
5/29/2013 18:16:23

Eric, you are the first Lutheran I've heard talk about our lack of discipleship, i.e., your definition of discipleship as multiplication, as being a sin. I find your assertion disturbing. Upon further reflection I find your assertion disturbing and I actually hate to say it, true.

I reflexively reacted to your assertion with pride and disdain. But my conscience, I think it is the Holy Spirit, won't let me off the hook by just brushing what you said aside. I do need to daily repent of my sins, and my pride is one of them. I am proud of our worship service, our Bible study, and our varied and different ways we disciple God's people. However, our discipleship has never included the idea of multiplication. Until today, I always thought that discipleship was taking care of the spiritual life of those entrusted to my pastoral care. I thought we were making disciples by helping people become more mature followers of Jesus. But now I am confronted with the idea that a truly mature follower of Jesus is more than someone faithful in worship and Bible study, being mature actually includes reproduction.

In this, I have fallen short and need to repent my shortcomings to our Lord, asking forgiveness and turning from my sin. Eric, I have filled out the contact form and would like to talk to you more about how I can grow in discipleship to include multiplication. Thank you for having the guts to say what is true and call me to accountability. I hope and pray others will follow me in repenting.

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