Discipleship for the individual believer is a lifelong journey with Jesus. For the church, this means creating an environmental process for disciplemaking. This environment has to be intentional, just as Jesus was intentional as He modeled disciplemaking in one-on-one relationships and small groups.
The environment, however, is not the end game. The goal is mature disciples who make more mature disciples. But knowing what a mature disciple looks and acts like can be tricky. Many churches have good and even intentional process aimed at getting people connected to their group system. However, in some cases these processes do little more than move individuals through content, assessments, and placement into a role or position. Assimilating someone into a position or through a process does not mean an individual has become a disciple.
The apostle Paul almost always used the language of family when he wrote about discipleship. He was a spiritual parent to so many, and when he wrote to them in his letters, he addressed them as his children in the faith. This is evident in 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12, 1 Timothy 1:1-2, and Philemon 1:8-11.
These verses clearly show Paul as a disciplemaker, intentionally investing in people around him. What about you? Who has God brought into your circle of influence? Who are the people around you needing encouragement, mentoring, and a spiritual parent? What is your church doing to make disciples?
Many churches are doing a pretty good job of getting people in the door and quenching some degree of a spiritual thirst, but most have done a less-than-adequate job actually nurturing and growing these folks in the faith. The dropout trend in churches today is troubling; young adults and older adults are leaving at an alarming rate.
Sadly, many churches today have compromised a biblical model to suggest that adequate disciplemaking can be done in large groups or even crowds. While that element of the spiritual disciplines (corporate worship, for example) is needed, these large gatherings do not and cannot take the place of meaningful and significant relationships that are formed in small groups.
I’m not a researcher by trade, but I contend that one of the biggest issues in the Christian Church is a lack of healthy environments for disciplemaking. Over the last 25 years in particular, disciplemaking church practices have changed drastically with less time and fewer resources committed to this biblical mandate.
I have the privilege of talking weekly with pastors and church staffs, and the issue of disciplemaking is a constant concern and need. They have a good reason to be worried. Consider for example, research showing that more evangelicals affirm the idea of there being more than one way to get to heaven than they did 15 or 20 years ago. How could that be? I believe it is the result of a lack of disciplemaking.
Churches want to discover ways to leverage the Sunday morning experience, to connect people to small groups and discipling relationships, to understand their identity in Christ, and to find their place of missional service in local communities and beyond. To address these trends, the NavPress Church Direct team is serious about providing support, training, mentoring, consulting, and teaching for leaders who are ready to change the scorecard and focus on a different set of expectations and results.
I am thrilled to introduce you to a new opportunity for discipleship training. The Real Life Discipleship Conference will engage you and your team in a biblical foundation and methodology to intentionally create an environment of discipleship in your church. Leaders will be exposed to a transferable, highly relational, proven methodology and biblical content to equip and empower your ministry. This conference is for those who are serious about making disciples.
With God’s grace and discerning leadership, we can address these discipleship needs as we encourage, equip, and engage the future together. Our heritage is rich. Our vision is strong. You’ve heard me say it before: Let’s start a discipleship revolution! God is answering our prayers. It has started!
Join us January 17, 2013 at The Met Church in Houston, TX
See you downstream…