In Mateen’s original post he commented on the various categories of churches as described in the book, and asked how we would classify our church. We struggled over this in the Session meeting, and it seemed that we were unable to come to an agreed upon answer. Jim Putnam answers this question on page 30 with his statement that “All four functions are important components of a church, but none should be the main focus of a church.” He goes on to say that the correct “Focus” for a church should be “biblical discipleship”. I don’t think we need to be concerned if we can’t agree that FPCE falls into one of the four models, because FPCE should be utilizing aspects of all four in an attempt to work toward the correct focus of making biblical disciples. We do need to be concerned if evaluation indicates to us that we are not in fact making (bibliical) disciples.

In discussing the “educational model” on page 29 Putnam makes a statement that I found pretty startling: “lecturing is the least effective way to teach anyhing.” At first glance it seemed to me that our whole system of learning is based on lecturing. At least that was the main emphasis of my college experience, as well as many, many classroom type experiences since then. Are not Mateen’s sermons on Sunday mornings a form of lecturing, and I believe he is certainly hoping to be teaching at the same time.

Putnam’s statement would make more sense to me if he had said that lecturing is the least effective way to make disciples. But that becomes a scary statement, because if Mateen isn’t making disciples on Sunday mornings, when is it going to happen. Of course, that’s the whole point of the book. Jesus made disciples by his one on one contact with them over a period of time, and that should be our example. I guess he infers that “disciples” are not made in church. That church is where Christians at all differen points in their personal discipleship get together to worship and praise God. For centuries the best way to learn a trade or a skill was to apprentice with someone experienced. In my own life as I think back on it some of the more effective steps toward my becoming a “disciple of Christ” (still a work in progress) happened as a result of one-on-one experiences with more mature Christians. Some of those experiences were over a few hours, some over a few days, and others were long term relationships.

So the super scary question then becomes; “Who am I discipling today?”

Jim Cahalan