Let me ask you a few questions: How do we change? How can we become the people we want to be? How can we truly be the people we pretend to be?
I have tried to change but it seems I have made little progress. The same sins and struggles that plagued my life five years ago still haunt me today. I have tried writing out a plan, enlisting the help of others, and just gritting my teeth as I try to white knuckle it through. Nothing seems to work.
Yesterday morning I prayed that God would help me rid these struggles so that I could become the person He wanted me to be. I hate living what feels like a double life. It makes me feel like a poser.
Feeling like we are making little progress presents a huge problem for the Church. Why is it a problem for the church? It is a problem because it will lead to discouragement, and discouragement will lead to people abandoning their faith.
There is nothing more discouraging in our journey of faith than feeling like we faking the whole thing. We compare our lives to the Christians we know and it seems like they have thing together, and so we come to believe that we are doing something wrong. While these people are the real deal, we are just imperfect copies.
How do we help people like me, to change?
I could be wrong, but in my view part of the solution is discipleship. Discipleship is not about adding another class or series of classes that explain church doctrine or what is expected from church membership. It is also not about handing people a list of "spiritual" disciplines that they need to add to their lives (though disciplines do play part in discipleship).
Discipleship is about doing life together, modeling Jesus’ love for one another, encouraging each other, and helping one another. It is about community, fellowship, or whatever you want to call it. While change ultimately is about a personal decision it always has a better chance of success when other people are involved.
The church families I have been a part of have done a very poor job in this area. Change was automatically supposed to happen as people began to study their Bibles, pray, and attend church services. Experience has told me that it just doesn’t happen that way for most people. We need the participation of other people in our lives if we are going to successfully change our behavior. Discipleship is the key to change, and discipleship takes place best in community.