Imagine for a moment something that never could have happened under Jesus’ ministry but happens all the time in modern churches. Imagine that Jesus, after His resurrection, stayed on the earth and started a church like a modern institutional church, and then pastored it for thirty years. Imagine Him giving sermons every Sunday to the same congregation. Imagine Peter, James and John sitting on the first pew during one of Jesus’ sermons, where they had been sitting every Sunday for twenty years. Imagine Peter leaning toward John and whispering in his ear with a groan, “We’ve heard this same sermon ten times.”
We know that such a scene is absurd, because we all know that Jesus would never have put Himself or His apostles into such a situation. Jesus came to make some disciples and do it a certain way within a certain amount of time. Over a period of about three years, He discipled Peter, James and John, and some others. He didn’t do it by preaching to them once every Sunday in a church building. He did it by living His life before them, answering their questions, and giving them opportunities to serve. And He completed His task and moved on.
So why do we do what Jesus would never have done? Why do we attempt to accomplish what God wants by preaching sermons to the same people for decades? When will we ever have completed our task? Why aren’t our disciples, after a few years, ready to go make some disciples of their own?
My point is that, if we are doing our jobs rightly, there should come a time when our disciples are mature enough to not really need our ministry to them any longer. They should be turned lose to make disciples themselves. We are supposed to reach the goal God has set before us, and Jesus showed us how to do it. Incidentally, in a growing house church there is a continual need to disciple people and develop leaders. A healthy house church will not fall into the endless cycle of the same preacher preaching to the same people over decades.