Not sure where I read it, but I recently discovered that Apple Inc. (the iMakers of all iThings iWonderful) designates 15-20% of all revenue towards R&D (product research and development). This is a remarkable percentage.
I can certainly appreciate the value placed upon product development especially as I type this blog post upon my MacBook Air, while my iPhone and iPad are within reach. One can only imagine the kinds of innovation that we will enjoy in the coming years.
Despite the wonderful success Apple has had in creating game-changing products, their focus must continue to be upon the development of new technology for their competitive edge to remain sharp. Without R&D we might still be typing away on the Apple II (probably not, but you get the point…).
Now let’s consider the church. What is our product per se? What are we supposed to develop?
I believe the answer is disciples.
Jesus’ famous last words to his followers were clear: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19,20).
We are to be about making more and maturing disciples. This is both quantitative (more) and qualitative (maturing). It is quantitative in that we have “all nations” to draw from. That’s a pretty large pool of people! And it’s qualitative in that the maturity of a disciple involves an initial point of decision (salvation & baptism) as well as ongoing obedience to the teachings of Jesus and the Scripture.
In John 8:31 Jesus says that a person is really his disciple “if you hold to my teachings.”
In John 13:35 Jesus goes onto say that others will recognize a disciple “if you love one another.”
Obedience and Love. Two marks of a maturing disciple and aspects for the church to emphasis as we endeavor to make more and maturing disciples.
As Christians, if our product is disciples then how much are we investing that direction?