Becoming a disciple-maker in a local church

In the last blog we compared how the Church today gauges effectiveness and how that compares with ‘How did Jesus gauge effectiveness?’ In response Graeme Jones who has extensive experience as a Church leader responded with the following.

“I wonder how many churches could simply define what discipleship looks like. Is it a course, a Bible study, mentoring, personal time with God guided by a book or person, etc. Then how does a person become a disciple maker in a local church. I don’t think many know how they can personally be involved in the disciple making process”.

You can read my initial response at the bottom of the last blog ‘How did Jesus gauge effectiveness?’ But let’s go a bit deeper.

  • Discipleship is more than learning

If you don’t put people into a world where they’re experiencing what they’re learning, they’re simply learning information and not living in obedience to it. By continuing to give them more information, you’re simply making them more and more disobedient.

In 1776, Methodists accounted for 2.5 percent of religious adherents in the American colonies, the second smallest of the major denominations of that time.  By 1850, Methodists comprised 34.2 percent of religious adherents in the United States, which was 14 percent more than the next largest group.

What set Wesley and his followers apart from the other religious groups surrounding them was that “many church leaders were telling people what they ought to do, but individual Methodists were telling each other what they were doing.”  In other words, as they went about relating to potential disciples, they talked with one another about what was happening and also linked these emerging disciples with others on the same journey. John Whitefield said: My brother Wesley acted wisely; the souls that were awakened under his ministry he joined in class, and thus preserved the fruits of his labour.  This I neglected and my people are a rope of sand.

  • Discipleship is a relationship not a program

Discipleship is all about loving God, loving others and making disciples. Loving God is a personal, intimate journey. Discipleship is not measured by following a set of rules, or learning a lot of facts, it is based on your relationship with Jesus. Loving others is two-fold: loving people as I live and relate with them in a small faith community and loving others with the compassion of Jesus which motivates me to make disciples.

To take this discussion even further, the following 2 links will take you to two blogs where you will find an interview I did with Dr. Robert (Bob) Logan on this subject.

Colin Noyes on Discipleship

Colin Noyes on interacting with potential disciples

The next blog will give you the link to the final two blogs by Bob Logan.

4 thoughts on “Becoming a disciple-maker in a local church

  1. “If you don’t put people into a world where they’re experiencing what they’re learning, they’re simply learning information and not living in obedience to it.” – Great point!

  2. Jordie, unfortunately, most of what we do in the Church is give people more information which makes them more and more disobedient. Time to move from listening to doing.

  3. I think the Methodist example is a good one. Saddleback Church follows a similar general pattern. In my ministry years we followed a simple process. People involved in active ministry were taught to ask one question about those they were ministering to, “What is the next step needed for this person’s growth”. Then they led them into that step.
    We also flattened the ministry structure so that a large proportion of the church were involved in pastoral care by caring for at least one other person. This was best achieved through small groups, but not exclusively.
    The other filter was our statement, “Touching Heaven, Changing Earth”. I.e. “Touching the heart of God in prayer and worship, corporate and private, then doing His work as He revealed it personally and corporately. We constantly shared victories and breakthroughs for encouragement and worship.

  4. Graham, I like the question “What is the next step”? It is a good growth question when it is followed by “How will you achieve that next step?” Obviously there are other questions that the Holy Spirit gives us when we start disciplining a person who is un-churched but good coaching questions are essential in helping anyone grow.

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