Our daughter is really into gymnastics right now so we spent Friday evening watching a gymnastics competition.  It was wonderful to see the young ladies displaying amazing routines on the parallel bars, the jump, and ballet/gymnastic exercises.   

I took CC to her gymnastics class for the first time Saturday morning and expecting to see her at 5 doing the same thing.  That did not happen but what I did see was young girls learning to master the basics of gymnastics.  I saw them going through disciplined exercises designed to build their muscles so that they could perform at maximum efficiency. I saw girls building their endurance by engaging in the same exercise several times no matter how difficult the task. As we think about making disciples for Jesus Christ I wonder how many of us spend time mastering the basics and training ourselves to engage in spiritual disciplines designed to our abilities to engage non believers.   

We know that disciples pray, study, worship, serve, share the gospel and give generously. What are the basic elements of each one of these disciplines?  Communicating our hearts to God is more than a discipline it is learning to be vulnerable enough to be honest with God. How many of us have been taught to study systematically and find meaning for our daily lives.   

I am reviewing an ordination process (including the core curriculum for seminary) for a denominational judicatory and there is no where in the process that prepares the future pastors to make disciples.  There are no questions asked about the candidates’ ability to engage non believers or the culture outside of the church. There is no where in the process where they are asked about their interpersonal skills development. The classes about evangelism are about the theology of evangelizing instead of how to engage a one on one encounter to share one’s faith.  Spiritual formation is essential should not be limited to class settings but future pastor’s need to be equipped to listen to a new believers life story and design a personalized study to assist that person become a fully committed follower of Jesus Christ.  

Our mainline churches are struggling to make disciples because the pastors are poorly equipped to make disciples.  During the preparation process there needs to be attention spent on developing the basic skills of what is the most critical task of the church.