This first chapter reminded me of something I read fifteen years ago in Dallas Willard’s “The Divine Conspiracy.” He said that every system is perfectly designed to create whatever it produces. If you don’t like what the system produces, you can’t blame the product. The system is to blame. If you want a different product, you must engineer a different system. The same is true with the Church. Our Western churches by and large are producing “Christians” who are almost indistinguishable from the rest of culture. If we are not happy with this result, we can’t blame those who’ve come through the system. We have to change the system.

So on p. 22, Jim Putnam says, “…we need to make a fundamental shift in the way we do church.”

Given the fact that we declare the purpose of FPCE is to make disciples who make disciples, how would you evaluate the effectiveness of our system in producing this result?

Putnam lists four categories of churches: educational, attractional, missional, organic (home). Thinking in terms of a major with a minor emphasis, how would you characterize our church? What category would primarily define FPCE? What secondary emphasis, if any, would you select to add better nuancing to the definition of who we are?

Each of these models has good features, but also is defective in some points. Putnam argues that if our goal is to produce mature disciples, we cannot do better than to emulate both Jesus’ teachings and his his methods. On p.33 he declares that Jesus’ “…fundamental methodology in making disciples is relationships grounded in truth and love.”

Where does this happen best in the life of FPCE? Where does this happen poorly? How can we invest our time and energy more effectively in “intentional relational discipleship” (see p. 34)? These are questions that we will no doubt address repeatedly over the coming months as God gives us greater clarity.

Let us pray for openness to the Holy Spirit to move us intentionally in the direction of effectively reshaping the “system” of our church so that we will see the large percentage of our congregation moving into fruitful and mature discipleship, reflecting in greater depth the character and ministries of Jesus Christ.