CHATTANOOGA — The church today is in a discipleship coma, asserted Robby Gallaty, pastor of Brainerd Baptist Church here.
Gallaty delivered the convention sermon during the annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention Nov. 12 in the Chattanooga Convention Center.
The reason for the comma, Gallaty contended, could be the insertion of a comma by translators of the King James Bible.
“One comma has paralyzed believers for around 300 years. The chasm between the clergy and the laity has widened since the completion of the 1611 King James Bible,” he said.
In Ephesians 4:12, Gallaty observed that KJV translators inserted a comma between “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
Most modern translations leave out the comma today, making the verse read, “for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
The Brainerd pastor has authored several books on discipleship, including his latest book entitled, Growing Up: How to Be A Disciple Who Makes Disciples, which can be ordered from Replicateministries.com.
Gallaty told of a layman in one of his previous churches who wanted to know why no one from the church visited him.
Gallaty noted that some of the church’s staff and deacons had visited the man, but in his mind, only the pastor counted.
That goes back to the misplaced comma that has perpetuated the belief that only the clergy can carry out ministry, Gallaty said.
“Success in churches is not how well the pastor performs all the ministry, but how well he equips others to partner in ministry,” Gallaty stressed.
He noted that one reason churches may not have mature believers is that the pastor and staff are executing all the ministry themselves and not empowering their members to participate in ministry.
Gallaty told the story of Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger. In 2000, they had an idea and goal to start an online encyclopedia called “Nupedia.” Their plan was to get the brightest and best doctors, historians, and researchers around the world to write articles that would go through an extensive editing process and then uploaded to an online site. But after three years, the two men literally pulled the plug on the project because it was so tedious. In three years they had only posted 24 articles and had only 74 others in the review stage.
A year after they launched Nupedia, the two men also launched Wikipedia which was designed to be a feeder system for Nupedia.
Wikipedia was designed to have ordinary men and women voluntarily submit articles to an editorial team. In the first year they had 20,000 submissions.
While Nupedia faded away, Wikipedia exploded and there are now 17 million articles on Wikipedia, Gallaty said.
Noting that he is not suggesting Wikipedia as the most reliable source, he pointed out that volunteers made it “the most accessible encyclopedia on the planet.”
The problem with lack of discipleship today, Gallaty said, is that most churches function like Nupedia instead of Wikipedia.
“Only accredited, trained ministers are allowed to carry out the ministry while the rest of the church sits idly by.”
That’s not the way Jesus intended for church to happen, he stressed.
Jesus modeled the making of disciples, Gallaty said.
He taught His disciples who continued Jesus’ ministry after His death and resurrection.
Jesus also commanded His followers to make disciples in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), Gallaty added.
Motivation is the key to making disciples, he observed.
What better motivation can one find than “a Savior who exemplified discipleship, expected discipleship, exhorted us to discipleship, and was executed for the gospel?
“We need men filled with the Spirit of God, aflame with righteousness, who are motivated by the one who have His life for them,” Gallaty said.
“Let’s stop making excuses and start making disciples,” he challenged messengers.
“I love to bring God glory. That’s what motivates me to make disciples. What about you?”