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Healthy Churches Focus on Discipleship

Disciple Makers

Every follower of Christ needs to be discipled.  Discipleship is mentoring or coaching someone on what it means to obey and serve Christ.  The Apostle Paul invested in the life of Timothy because God wanted Timothy to go where Paul had already been.  Are you personally involved in the spiritual development of someone else?  Every Christian should have a Paul who disciples them and a Timothy whom they disciple.  Where is your Paul and who is your Timothy?

Discipleship really is an easy process (Matt 4:19) but difficult for many to complete:

  1. “Follow Me” (Jesus) – A disciple knows and follows Jesus!
  2. “And I will make you” – A disciple is being changed and transformed by the Holy Spirit!
  3. “Fishers of Men” – A disciple is committed to the mission of God!  (Making more disciples!)

What does the process of discipleship look like in your church?  We know the biblical characteristics of a disciple, but how do you get the new believer there?  Dynamic Church Planting International training says, “There needs to be an easily explainable process of the steps, opportunities, and experiences your church offers to help unbelievers find Christ and grow into spiritual maturity.  Discipleship will not occur without a plan and intentionally preparing your church to be involved in the process.”

In a recent national survey of evangelical church attenders 24% said they are sliding backwards spiritually while 41% said they are static and not growing.  That means 65% are not growing spiritually.   While a healthy church must be strong in discipleship it seems to be one of the greatest weaknesses.  Something is wrong when there is a gap between what we say we believe and what is actually happening.  Bill Hull in The Disciple-Making Church calls us to the three D’s of disciple making: “Deliver them, Develop them, and Deploy them!”

  • Deliver Them: Discipleship begins with pre-believers.  They come with baggage but they are not just delivered “from” their past.  They are also delivered to their present community of believers.  Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can change a heart and transform a life from the inside out!
  • Develop Them: Discipleship requires that you have a step-by-step process for helping new believers to become maturing saints over time.  Dynamic Church Planting International defines a spiritual growth system as, “When people come to Christ, our job is to partner with the Holy Spirit in helping them grow in Christlikeness.”
  • Deploy Them: The goal must be to make disciple who are disciplemakers.  The real litmus test for discipleship is when we see those we disciple discipling others!  Is it reproducing to the 4th generation? (II Tim 2:2)  Do you currently have a simple process in place that leads a clueless unbeliever to a committed, mature, reproducing disciple?

Discipleship requires someone willing to teach and someone willing to learn.  We must be careful not to overcomplicate discipleship but make it easily attainable and reproducible.  Discipleship is not gaining knowledge and getting a certificate to prove we have been “discipled” but rather it is learning what we need to know and then doing it.  Jesus spent his time preparing the disciples for greater responsibility so that His influence could be multiplied.

In Transformissional Coaching by Steve Ogne and Tim Roehl they reveal the following:

  • 5% of learners will transfer a new skill into their practice as a result of theory.
  • 10% will transfer a new skill into their practice with theory and demonstration
  • 20% will transfer a new skill into their practice with theory, demonstration, and practice within training.
  • 25% will transfer a new skill into their practice with theory, demonstration, practice within the training, and feedback.
  • 90% will transfer a new skill into their practice with theory, demonstration, practice within the training, feedback, and coaching.

Where is the best place for this kind of training to take place?  In a local New Testament Church!  Equipping our members to be the ministers, members, and missionaries God has called them to be.  The work of the church belongs to every believer in that community of believers (Eph 4:11-12).  We must equip and empower every follower and then release them with accountability to make disciples within their network of relationships!!!

“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”  2 Timothy 2:2

A disciple is a lifelong learner and follower of the ways and commands of Christ!