If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. – Mark 8:34b
An article published by Wheaton College stated that there are nearly 100 million evangelical Christians in America, comprising roughly 30–35% of our entire nation. Now if that’s true, it poses a great problem: if there are so many Christians, why do we still have all of this mess? The answer is simple—the church has an abundance of fans, but it is running short on true disciples, or followers.
The Bible gives two great examples of fans and followers. The first is in Matthew 4, where Jesus sees Peter and Andrew on the boat fishing. Jesus says to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.” They leave everything they know behind and just follow Jesus. Now that’s a follower.
The second is later, in Matthew 19. A rich man has just asked Jesus what he must do to be perfect. Jesus tells him that he must keep all the commandments, to which the young man replies, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” (v 20). Jesus tells him, “Go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (v 21). The man went away sad, because he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Clearly, he admired Jesus and thought he was a great teacher since he came to him and asked his advice. He was a fan, but he wasn’t a follower.
The purpose of the church is to make disciples, not just add names to the roll or increase small-group Bible study attendance. Yet, that’s where a lot of churches are at today; they have more benchwarmers than disciples, and we will never turn this nation around if we continue to let the church become a spectator sport. Let’s make disciples who will commit themselves to ushering in the kingdom.