I love seeing old pictures or films that give a glimpse of how life was lived and what culture looked like in bygone days, exposing me to history I never could have lived or reminding me of the now-changed landscape of my past. I like to be able, somehow, to grasp what came before or recapture my own life lived.
Abandoned places intrigue me, too. They hold a bit of mystery. The why’s, how’s and what’s. What circumstances led to its abandonment? Why are those windows sealed? Where did that door lead? Who frequented here? How could they just leave it like this? Abandoned.
Those places and questions haunt me a bit. I imagine the sights, smells, voices and stories. I also see in those places as opportunities for redemption, reclaiming purpose, function and vitality.
The thought takes me to a particular room, a room in the basement of my home church. It is now a supply closet. It once served a different purpose. I can clearly recreate the scene. In some ways, maybe fitting that it now holds cleaning implements and service-related supplies. It once was a Sunday school classroom that, at times, housed a pool table. We used it for our Sunday night guys’ “training union,” “church training” or “discipleship.” We got some serious work done in that room. It’s such a meaningful a place to my spiritual journey and growth.
That is the place is where I learned what it looked like to spend time with the Lord, share my faith, the importance of taking my place of service in and through the church and reaching and helping others grow spiritually. In that room, leaders challenged me to stand on the authority of Jesus, to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit in order to fulfill the mission of God in the world through this intentional, relational, instructional, life-long process.
Now, only a faint echo of those days past, significant only to those who know what to look for (or who are looking for a broom).
I know a room does not constitute disciple making or spiritual growth. I know that making and growing disciples is a result of the work of the Spirit of God.
Still, in some ways, this forgotten classroom is, to me, a picture of forgotten places in the church and forgotten (or at least disenfranchised) functions of the church. Current trends in spiritual formation, Christian maturity and church growth indicate we have not been serious about making disciples. Have we abandoned our prime directive to make disciples?
Do you make disciples? Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you don’t because no one ever sat down with you (even in an aspiring broom closet) and dug deep into the fundamentals of the faith and modeled the life of a disciple, providing opportunities for relationship, teaching and obedience.
What if we rolled back the film? What if we placed ourselves in that first century moment when Jesus ascends and take His words to heart? ”Make disciples.” What if we reclaimed some of the abandoned places and spaces in the church? What if we would take seriously the task of disciples making disciples? Could we bring life back to that stale supply closet?