In 6th grade band I was trying out for 1st chair. For the non-bandy types this means the number 1 position in the instrument area. The music was provided in time for a week of practice. I practiced it until I had it cold. I was new in this school and had much to prove both for myself and my social position. If I could win 1st chair from the one who had it I would score major points in many areas important to a 6th grade boy! The day finally came for tryouts. In the middle of band, while everyone was present, we had to play the piece for the teacher. As each took a turn, I couldn’t help but notice that theirs sounded strange. About that time, it was my turn. I straightened up in the chair and played it just the way I had practiced.
I got last chair.
You see, the picture at the top represents what is called the key signature. It tells a player how to play certain notes. In this picture you see that there are 3 sharps (#). I played the music as if it had 2 sharps. There is no real reason for this other than God knew I needed humility at this point in my life!
If we use the wrong standard of measurement, or the wrong key signature, you will not win what you desire. I believe that our denomination, state conventions, and churches are using the wrong standard of measurement when it comes to gauging success. Every year we pass out awards for those who have baptized the most overall and per capita. I believe we have been negligent when it comes the commands of Christ in this regard. Let’s look at 2 verses.
Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few.”
I was taught and have preached this verse of Jesus with passion for evangelism. However, I think we fell short. When you harvest, the reproduction(evangelism and conversion) has already taken place. The harvest is of the fruit which contains seeds for more reproduction. In other words, the harvest is of disciples. This fruit is what every farmer is after. Disciples are what Jesus wanted. However, we have grown happy just to have leaves push through the soil and reveal a field of green. This is at the heart of awarding for baptisms and not disciples. We award churches for cultivating the soil, planting seeds, and seeing green leaves. No farmer in their right mind thinks that is the harvest. The harvest is later. The goal of Jesus is not converts but disciples.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.
If we continue to play in the wrong key like I did on that day, then we will never sit 1st chair. Baptism numbers are not as telling as evangelism ratios. How many people does it take in your church to win someone to Jesus? The current SBC statistic is here. What is it in your church? You see the harvest is the fruit of the growth and ability to reproduce. The harvest is the a field of stubby green. The farmer does not get a check(award) because of sprouts(converts). The farmer gets a check(award) with the harvest(disciples). Evangelism ratios are not the only way to measure discipleship. However, it is better than what we are doing.
What other standards could we use to measure discipleship?