In the 1st century, they gathered sheaves. Sheaves were taken to what is called a “threshing floor”. It took time and effort to transition the harvest that was gathered into a useable grain that could feed the world.
On the threshing floor an ox walked on the sheaves breaking the grain from the stalk. The broken stalks were swept aside. What survived the breaking process was tossed up while a large hand-fan stirred the air. The fan blew the “fluff ” away. What the fan did not blow away, fell to the threshing floor. Most of what now lay on the threshing floor was grain, not fodder or fluff (see Matthew 3:11-12).
The remainder, which was only a very small part of the original ingathering, was shaken through a sieve to filter away the tiny particles of chaff. What remained however, was available to either plant for future harvests, or to be put to use at the dinner table. If there is no threshing process, the gathered crop would be of little to no use. Not good for bread; and not good for reproduction.
Every apostolic church must have a threshing process if it is going to become bread to feed this world.
Luke 14 records three qualifying statements made by Jesus regarding discipleship. Jesus intentionally eliminated the stalks and chaff from the wheat. He had 3,000 attendees, but after a process, He only had twelve disciples. Breaking, shaking and sifting separated what was usable, from the gathered. Make no mistake about it. Until newly acquired people go through the threshing floor you never know what you really have. This is a challenge! I have realized, the discipleship process does take longer than it did in years past. That however, doesn’t remove its importance. The temptation today is to measure quality by the attendance numbers who come to worship on Sunday. In an article written by author Carlton Coon titled “Disciple-Making – You Won’t Keep Them All” it states that “The attendance assessment is a weak measurement to gauge church health. It is flawed because it does not ask, ‘How many of these people are committed?’” He goes on to say, “Commitment is better measured by the calendar and checkbook. People who willingly give of their time and finance!” Pastors must teach Bible principles that oppose the flesh.
You will get what you preach and teach. You will also get what you don’t preach.
When true discipleship principles are taught, they cause separation to take place because they require decisions to be made. True discipleship is counter-cultural. It opposes the current world values and norms. New people quickly see that. Often, however they feel they will be the exception to the rule. True disciplemaking gives people hope and a reason to change their sinful behaviors.
Every church needs a disciple-making (threshing floor) system in place. The breaking will take place a little bit at a time. However, regardless of how slow or fast, it must happen if the person is going to be saved. A proven, tested, commitment to discipleship must not be optional for anyone who desires to be a member of the church.
This is especially true for those used in ministry and leadership. Involvement is an important element of the discipleship process. But there are some areas that require a higher level of commitment, and only time and testing proves that. People need time to show their level of commitment.
Written by Bishop F. Joe Ellis
Third and final of a three-part article
#1. KNOW WHAT WHEAT LOOKS LIKE.
Distinguish between chaff and the grain; and deciding what you want to keep should be obvious. By the way – you won’t keep them both. If you want to accommodate everything in culture, the real grain won’t stay.
#2. HAVE A BIBLE-BASED PROCESS.
Let the process separate people. In this process, elevate God’s word to its place of authority.
#3. HAVE HIGH EXPECTATIONS OF PEOPLE.
Jesus did. Teach to those expectations and don’t compromise those ideals for leaders or teachers.
#4. BE DOCTRINAL.
Some say, “To be relevant we cannot be doctrinal.” Wrong! Right practice is always derived from right doctrine. It is impossible to be practical without being doctrinal. Doctrine is the foundation for the practical.
#5. PATIENTLY ELIMINATE REAL ISSUES.
For example, deceitfulness of riches, cares of life and lust for other things.
#6. LOSE PEOPLE FOR THE RIGHT REASON.
Never because they were not given proper care.
#7. HAVE A PROCESS.
Have a process to turn good grain into something useful and usable.