Gateway's Spiritual Weakness

The last few weeks, we have been reviewing the results of a survey administered in late 2017 to life group member of Gateway Church.  The first week, we talked about Gateway’s greatest strength and last week, we discussed Gateway’s practical weakness. This week I want to look at the rather odd spiritual weakness. I say “odd” because it’s a bit of a mystery to me. The reason why it shows up is baffling. I can’t quite figure out why it comes up.

Now, before I tell you what this weakness is, let me remind you that the people invited to the vision meetings where these surveys were filled out were all Life Group participants. That’s an important detail to remember. All of the feedback is from Life Group members.

So, here’s the spiritual weakness you brought up. It’s kind of a combo. Two things. Two weaknesses. By far, the greatest weaknesses you mentioned again and again were "feeling disconnected," and what can only be described as, “I’m not being discipled.”

Your feedback to us about where we are weak as a church is that you “feel disconnected,” and you’re “not being discipled.”

How many of you mentioned this? 172 of you. That’s over 60% who filled out a survey.

Now why is this puzzling to me. Why does the feedback of “I’m not connected” and “I’m not being discipled” seem odd?

Do you remember who filled out the surveys? Life Group members. The goal of life groups is to get you “connected to one another,” and life groups are our ministry where you are “discipled.” The very people involved in our life groups are saying they “don’t feel connected” and that they “aren’t being discipled.” So we’ve got a problem.

What exactly did you say? You said it…

  • Can be hard to connect
  • [It’s] Easy to feel lost in the crowd
  • [It’s] Hard to get to know people
  • Life groups and serving don’t help as much as they should
  • [Gateway is] Impersonal
  • [Gateway can be] Clicky
  • People keep to their groups
  • Lack of discipleship
  • Discipleship opportunities
  • Weak in the area of discipleship
  • [Lacking] Programs that disciple men and women (somewhere between life groups and Joshua’s Men/215)

And, overall , 24% of you said “being disconnected” and “not being discipled” is the one thing that must change at Gateway Church.

Now, if those who had filled out a survey weren’t life group participants, we’d have to go down the road of, “Well why aren’t you actively participating in the ministry we have for connecting you to others and discipling you?” But that’s not our situation. Everyone who filled out a survey is participating in our ministry designed to “connect you to others” and “disciple you.”

So, Houston, we have a problem. And I’m not pointing the finger at the staff who currently oversee our Life Group ministry nor am I pointing the finger at the staff who created our life group ministry.

All I’m saying is this: You’re telling us that things aren’t working. Something about Life Groups isn’t working. You’re not connected, and you’re not being discipled. So, we need to do something.

So here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to host “think tank” sessions with you to solve this problem. I’m not about to tell you how we’re going to fix this. We’re going to figure this out together. I’m not about to say “Here’s the big change we’re going to make with our Life Group ministry,” because I don’t know what needs to be done. So, I need your help. And I’m inviting you to meet with us to discuss how we as a church can better connect you to one another and disciple you.

So, mark your calendars for one of these upcoming Think Tank Sessions.

Mon, Feb 19th: 7pm @ CR9
Wed, Feb 28th : 7pm @ NM
Sun, Mar 4: 6pm @ CR9

Know that your concern aligns with Scripture. Jesus’ familiar words known as the Great Commission are “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18b-20 ESV)

In recent weeks, I’ve seen more articles about the state of discipleship in US churches than ever before. I think we’re at a shifting point in the US church, where many are seeing a lack of disciple making and they’re unhappy about it. We’ll engage with some of these articles. We’ll talk about the pace of life and how our busyness keeps us from growing and connecting to one another. We’ll throw out ideas on how to improve how we connect and make disciples. This is going to be a very interactive experience, and your voice will be heard and you will have influence. So, again, watch for upcoming announcements about these “think tank” sessions which will take place in the coming weeks and months.

And please be patient as we think through this together. The temptation is to move real fast or real slow — make lots of changes or make no changes — and neither usually goes well. But we won’t ignore your feedback. We can’t ignore your feedback.