Justin Hiebert

Catalyzing Change

The church is not a social club

Posted on 13 Aug 2013 in Church, Discipleship, Quotes, Uncategorized | 5 comments

City Lights

City Lights (Photo credit: Ghassan Tabet)

Below is a thought I had in my journal a few days ago. I had been praying and thinking about the future of the missional movement and some of the struggles it is currently facing. I’d love to know what you think:


I am firmly convinced that the reason the American church has a discipleship problem is because they themselves have never been discipled. Discipleship is the natural and obvious direction for those that have been transformed by the sacrificial life and death of Jesus. It is the one thing he said matters; not doctrine, not niceness, not factual memorization, but the continuing process of people becoming like Jesus and calling others to join the movement. I would even venture farther to say that a group of people not discipling cannot rightly call themselves a church. They can be a gathering of like-minded people or a social club, but they cannot be and are not the church of Jesus. 

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Justin Hiebert

Leadership Catalyst - Entrepreneur - Coach at JSHiebert Leadership Coaching
I am a Business and Life Coach in both non-profit and for profit settings. I coach leaders, executives, and pastors in areas of vision, clarity, and values. In relationship coaching I focus on healthy and sustainable relationships, and in leadership development roles I catalyze change for individuals and groups to thrive. I also consult churches and organizations on how to train new leaders and create a healthy culture. In addition to that, I am an Anabaptist pastor in the Denver metro area. I specialize on topics that include: missional theology, discipleship, culture and the church in today’s society. I am married to my wonderful wife Elise and we have three kids. I grew up and now work in the United States Mennonite Brethren Church (USMB) and love the people and history of the Mennonite Brethren faith. I am a graduate of Tabor College with a dual degree in Youth Ministry and Christian Leadership, a graduate of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary with a Masters of Divinity, and a Doctoral Student and Bethel Seminary. I also teach college classes in areas of Bible, Communication, and Business.

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  • Clayton Gladish

    Makes sense to me. Jesus called people to follow and then to do the same with others. In other words to make disciples. We are to do likewise.

    One thing you might want to flesh out is what discipleship looks like (which I know you’ve done elsewhere). Some might say that those things you mentioned are “discipleship tools” or have been “discipled” in methods of defending doctrine, proper niceness, and memorizing the right verses for every situation. What sets your vision for following Jesus apart from theirs?

    Oh, and I love how you make clear that it is the natural direction for those who have been transformed and sanctified but might replace “have been” with “are being” as often our transformation continues throughout the discipleship journey.

    Again, great thoughts. We, the church, are called to so much more than being a social club!

    • Clayton,

      I wrestled with semantics and phrasing quite a bit in the little bit of editing that I did and you quickly caught on to it. One suggested change I thought of was writing it as being ‘wholly transformed’, but again, the critique would look something like, “Have you really been wholly transformed? I saw what you did to that lady who cut you off in traffic yesterday….” The unfortunate limitations of words I suppose.

      Thanks for entering in and providing your thoughts

  • Dude… SO much to love in that little blurb… Gonna quote you on my blog tomorrow, if I may…

  • Pingback: Three ways to take evangelism seriously | Empowering Missional()

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