We live in an “I want it NOW!” society. Yet rarely can you actually get anything immediately and instantaneously. Amazon came up with a solution to this dilemma in 2005 when they implemented a two-day shipping option for a minimal yearly fee. Though the two-day wait is still not immediate, it’s better than waiting a week. And for many people, it’s a small price to pay to avoid leaving the comfort of your home, searching through endless store aisles, and standing in long lines to obtain that irresistible item on your “got-to-have-it list.”
Still, as the years have passed, two days has become two days too long, or perhaps we should say 47 hours and 30 minutes, to be more exact. In 2014, Amazon took their shipping strategy to the stratosphere, literally. They envisioned a day in the not-too-distant future when buyers will no longer have to wait days for a package to arrive. With a click of a button, an unmanned aerial vehicle can be dispatched to deliver a package to your doorstep in thirty minutes or less. The company boasts that Amazon Prime Air, as it is called, will one day revolutionize e-commerce as we know it.
The contraption they promoted looks like something out of a Star Trek episode, but the concept is not new. And as a sign of our times, it embodies our Western impatience. For most of us, “wait” is a four-letter word that wreaks havoc on our day. Everything in our lives revolves around immediacy, around doing things faster and getting results more quickly.
Whether you want a burger and fries or a frozen dinner, you can have it your way in roughly five minutes. This sense of urgency is not limited to food, either. For example, banking transactions—deposits, withdrawals, check cashing, and bill paying (yes, even your mortgage)—can happen from the comfort of your bed with a device you can hold in your hand. You don’t even have to change out of your pajamas. DVR boxes have revolutionized how we watch TV at night by eliminating time wasted by commercials. Each year, cell phones are replaced with a newer model to access faster download speeds and lightning fast processors. Our Amazon accounts are linked with Prime, iTunes has our credit card info on file for immediate downloads, and Little Caesar’s always has our pizza “Hot N’ Ready.”
We live in a world where everyone is in a hurry, but they are heading nowhere fast. Why the hurry? We’re products of our cultural values. And you can either make a conscious effort to go against the grain or you will be swept away with the tide. Carrie Fisher fairly summed up our societal values when she observed, “Instant gratification takes too long.”
Sadly, this “have-it-now” mentality has spread like a virus, making its mark on not just the West, but through our cultural exports, on the rest of the world as well. And this need for speed has not only infected the secular aspects of our lives but also our spiritual life as well. And this has not been good for the process of spiritual maturity. It should not surprise us that a mature Christian cannot be mass-produced through a quick and immediate process. The mass-production mindset of McChristianity is adversarial to discipleship and spiritual growth. Why? Because you can’t microwave disciples. Discipleship is a Crock Pot recipe.
When we implement “have-it-now” disciple-making models, we set the church up for unrealistic expectations. Discipleship takes time. You do not become a mature man or woman in the Christian faith overnight. “The besetting sin of the 21st century disciple is impatience,” says Bill Hull, who after years of investing in others knows firsthand that you can’t microwave a disciple.
And that may be why so few people are actually discipling.