Flossing Teeth and Making Disciples

I visited the dentist recently. It was a routine check-up. I head there every six months or so.

I used to not like going to the dentist. Maybe I had a negative experience there as a child — I really don’t remember. Now, I look forward to it. I like the feeling of clean teeth — and I finally have a dentist that seems to remember me each time I visit. He asks about my kids and seems interested in what I do.

This past visit I learned something that surprised me. First – allow me to set the context. I’ve been brushing my teeth for years — morning and evening. It’s part of my routine. It’s a habit.

When it comes to flossing – I would do it occasionally. It always seemed to take longer – and sometimes my gums would bleed. Even though the hygienist would tell me I should floss and give me some dental floss each visit, I never made it part of my routine. It never become a habit.

I would often start flossing my teeth for a few days after my appointment at the dentist, but I’d rarely stick to it. I always seemed to be in too much of a hurry to take the time. My commitment to floss was always short lived. I lacked the intention to follow through.

Typically, when my appointment was getting closer, I’d start flossing a few days before. I hoped that I could make up for months of non-flossing by a last ditch effort. I doubt it made much difference to my teeth.

So this most recent visit – my hygienist said to me, “If you had to choose between flossing your teeth and brushing your teeth, you should choose to floss.” I was shocked. For years I had believed that brushing was better and flossing was optional. I was surprised to discover that I had been wrong for all these years. I’d adopted a habit that was second best. I’d failed to do the one thing that would make the biggest difference.

As a result of this visit – I’ve started flossing every day. I haven’t quit brushing my teeth, but I’ve decided that I need to be flossing too. Because my teeth matter!

Flossing Teeth and Making Disciples

Now on to the spiritual parallel. For years I’ve believed that church attendance is what really matters to God. We shouldn’t forsake the assembling of ourselves with other believers. We need to be taught the Word of God to grow. Corporate worship is necessary for my spiritual health. Being in church on Sunday pleases God. I’ve made this part of my weekly routine for years. My parents starting taking me to church with them from birth. Now it’s a habit.

Yet what I’m discovering is that more important than going to church on Sunday, Jesus wants me to be making disciples. He sent His disciples to make disciples. He wants this to be part of my routine.

The hard part is – somehow I thought the Sunday worship gathering was all about making disciples. That’s what preaching the Word accomplishes – discipleship. The only problem with this view is that most Christians who attend church on Sunday are content to let the pastor/preacher do the discipling, rather than obeying what Jesus said.

In fact, I think it’s become easy to just go to church and expect the pastor to be making disciples. Isn’t that his job?

Yet, many Christians approach disciplemaking like I’ve approached flossing my teeth. Helpful but not necessary. Certainly not important enough to make it a habit.

What if Christians committed to worshipping together with believers AND engaging in disciplemaking all week long?

What if the priority was obeying all that Jesus commanded – especially the part about making disciples?

What would be the spiritual impact?

Today’s Missional Challenge

Consider a both/and approach — keep on worshipping on Sundays AND make disciples who make disciples. (Kind of like brushing your teeth AND flossing too).

Author

Dave DeVries

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Dr. Dave DeVries is a coach, trainer, author and founder of Missional Challenge. He is passionate about coaching and training church planters and missional leaders. With 30+ years of church planting and leadership development experience, Dave brings his passion and encouragement to those he trains and coaches.
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