Usually, before I go to bed at night, I make coffee.
Which is to say I get the coffeemaker ready to make coffee first thing in the morning, and set the automatic timer for 4:55 a.m., so that the aroma of brewing coffee will rise to my nostrils on the second floor just before the alarm goes off at 5:00.
And that really helps.
Once I've had coffee, I can actually think about how it got here, and it occurs to me that somewhere out there is a factory that makes coffeemakers. Two things seem clear:
- If there wasn't a factory to make coffeemakers, I probably wouldn't have one.
- If coffeemakers didn't make coffee, there probably wouldn't be a factory.
Stay with me.
I heard someone refer to the church as a "disciple-making factory" recently, and I sat up a little straighter because I've had that thought myself.
When I came to Richmond seven years ago our mission statement read: "First Baptist Church exists to make disciples..." and, almost immediately, I pictured fully formed, fully functioning disciples rolling off the assembly line.
My question, however, was, "What does a disciple do?"
If coffeemakers didn't make coffee the factory would go out of business. Is there a corollary in church life? Could it be said, "If disciples don't ______________ the church will go out of business"? And how would you fill in that blank?
The answer to that question could make all the difference.
Some people answer it by saying that disciples make disciples, and if they don't the church will go out of business. That seems logical, until I apply that same logic to coffeemakers: coffeemakers aren't supposed to make coffeemakers; they're supposed to make coffee. If they do it and do it well people will continue to buy coffeemakers and the factory will stay in business.
So, what are disciples supposed to "make," if not more disciples?
Here's one answer:
In Matthew 10 Jesus sends his disciples out to preach the good news of the coming Kingdom and to give people a glimpse of what the world will look like when God, at last, has his way: "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons," he says, and off they go to do it.
That's Kingdom coffee, friends, and I believe that if we made more of that the church would have all the business it could handle. That's what Jesus did, after all, and everywhere he went he drew such crowds that he could hardly breathe. But along the way he was teaching his disciples to do the same things he did, to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons, and to do it as a sign of the coming Kingdom. Is it too much to think that we, in our own way, could do the same?
Maybe if we stopped worrying so much about making coffeemakers, maybe if we put more energy into making coffee, God's kingdom would come and his will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.