“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)
This comes in the middle of the Lord’s prayer . . . in the garden of Gethsemane. The part most of my pastors have focused on is where he prays for unity. I’ve seen plenty of churches’ pastoral staff water down the truth and ignore doctrinal disunity in the name of unity. We seem to think being one means ‘the more the merrier!” Uh, no, it means those who are in your pews being of one mind and in one accord. We can’t have that unless everyone in the local body is functioning together, each using their individual gifts and natural abilities towards the same goals, which should include, biblically, for us all to grow to be more like Christ and worshiping him in Spirit and in Truth.
I think part of this comes from a common misunderstanding that the Church is all about making spiritual babies. No, evangelism is all about making babies, and for that Jesus sent his disciples out from where he gathered them together to teach them. Did he stop others who didn’t follow him from showing up when he sat down to teach his own? No, but he didn’t modify his message to appeal to them, he kept his focus on the spiritual babies he already had in his care to raise. In fact, he deliberately spoke in confusing parables when the crowds gathered around–exact opposite of what many churches do today.
Maybe that’s why we’re growing fat in numbers, but most of us aren’t growing up in the Lord, but rather still messing in our diapers. Brothers and sisters, on the judgment day, God’s not going to be counting how many babies we made and left to spiritually starve while we were busy focusing on making more. He’s going to be counting how many members of our churches grew up to full maturity and produced the spiritual fruits: love, joy, peace, goodness, gentleness, etc.
If you’re called to be a pastor or a teacher, your primary job isn’t to make new disciples. Your primary job is to train your existing disciples with the preaching of God’s word, to be their human coach as the grace of God flows through you to change those he’s already entrusted to you from sinners into saints. If you truly feel God’s call to be a full time evangelist, and you’re holding a pastoral or teaching position in (or out of) a church, step aside so someone can raise your babies properly and take your good news out to the folks it is intended for, by any means but making everyone eat an exclusive diet of gospel-seed and milk.
If you’re laity, and you wish your leaders would read this, or you know you are not a doctrinal good fit within your local body, don’t wait for them to see things your way or to start feeding you properly and don’t ignore the disunity. Go find a church properly focused on discipleship who you feel you can trust to teach you right, if you’re sure it’s your current body that’s in error and not you.