Archives For Discipleship

Little ChurchDisciples Need Leaders

I wonder how many church leaders don’t even realize the success of ongoing discipleship depends partly on how well they develop leaders.

God didn’t design the church to have one person lead everyone else in spiritual formation—far too often the model of evangelical churches. Throughout the New Testament, we see leadership development and delegation—or mass participation—of discipling others.

Paul repeatedly told young pastors to entrust the ministry to spiritual people who could then pass it on to the next generation.

You mass produce cars, not disciples.

I’m convinced one of the reasons we struggle with discipleship is because we aren’t raising up leaders to make more disciples.

You don’t need a priest because you are a priest.

Most people who are reading this are going to be Protestants of some variety. Protestantism was in part a rediscovery that individuals do not need a priest to communicate with God.

This is a key theological issue. Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:9 that we are a “royal priesthood” who are to proclaim the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness. We correctly assert that we don’t need another human as a priest for us…

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Jesus Washing FeetWith whom are you doing life? What I mean is, with whom do you spend time hanging out and talking about the deepest things of life? Whom do you sharpen, and who sharpens you?

Jesus lived toward the cross and the resurrection, and his singular focus on his end game motivated him to live very intentionally. He depended on God for constant guidance and made choices rather strategically. For example…

One day soon afterward, Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles.

– Luke 6:12-13 NLT

Jesus had thousands of followers.
He had dozens of disciples.
He picked twelve to train more deeply and send out.
And he had three that were with him even more often.

I think there’s a pattern there for us to follow when it comes to the goal of our lives as Christians. Whether you want to call it discipleship, leadership development, or just plain friendship, I’m convinced we need to intentionally develop relationships with these circles of people in our lives. We need to pour ourselves into others,…

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Bus-MinistryIt was exciting news. My friend’s eyes lit up as he shared the exciting changes in the church he recently began pastoring. One of the neatest transitions the congregation had made was to begin small group meetings.

Small group ministry has been around for decades now. However, it is still a relatively new concept to many churches. The main idea is that people hold Bible studies in groups of 10-12 (depending on the context) for the purpose of Christian growth, edification, accountability and fellowship. Most small groups meet in homes in order to promote a family atmosphere where people are comfortable discussing God’s Word and its application to their lives without the formalities and intimidation of traditional classroom models.

For many churches, small groups balance the reception of Scripture from a congregational sermon setting with the discussion, response, and application of Scripture within the setting of mutual trust and encouragement.

As my friend and I were talking about his church’s move toward small groups, one burning question arose: how can a church guard their small groups from becoming institutionalized and ritualistic in the way that other church programs have devolved? (i.e. Sunday School, Bus…

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Purpose Driven LifeEveryone in your congregation wants to know if life really matters. Members, visitors, even your staff want to know, “What on earth an I here for?”

They’re asking three basic questions:

First, there’s the question of existence: Why am I alive? For thousands of years people have asked this question. Many people of the Bible did. Jeremiah asked this question, “Why was I born? Was it only to have trouble and sorrow? To end my life in disgrace?”

Second, there’s the question of significance. Is there some meaning and purpose to my life? Is all that I’m doing just a waste of time and energy? Is my life significant?

In Psalm 89, David asked, “I remember how short my life is . Why did You create us? For nothing?”

Job asked the question, “Why should I work so hard for nothing?” If there’s no meaning and purpose, why am I even doing this?

Solomon even questions the significance of pleasure. He says, “Laughing and having fun is crazy. What good does it do?” Is there any significance to what I do? Why keep…

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ThreeWhat Are We Missing in Discipleship?

Lately there’s been a lot of talk about spiritual formation and discipleship, and rightfully so.

I think we can all agree there’s a discipleship deficit in many churches. There isn’t a whole lot of discipling going on, even though that’s precisely what we, as Jesus’ followers, were commissioned to do—make disciples.

So leaders are asking questions like, “What should we do?” and “How should we do it?” There are plenty of successful models that have been tried in a variety of contexts. But how can we best make disciples right where we are?

There are plenty of discipleship books and models. But what can we learn about discipleship from Christ and the early church? In this series of articles, we are looking at four discipleship principles found in Scripture:

  • Maturity is a goal for disciples.
  • God wants you and your church on a clear path toward spiritual growth.
  • God involves us in our own growth, as well as our church’s growth.
  • God calls you and your church to be spiritual leaders.

A Pathway to Maturity

If we can agree that spiritual maturity is the goal for disciples, how do we achieve it? How does God…

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Hidden Discipleship

By Scott Attebery

Here’s a phrase you’ve never read in Scripture: “And Jesus called aside the apostles saying, ‘take up your discipleship workbooks and gather for the lesson.’”

There is no doubt that Jesus was a disciple-maker and there is no doubt that He taught the apostles lessons. However, there is great doubt that he ever announced His discipleship in this way.

Certainly, in calling the apostles to “follow” him, He announced a general call to discipleship. But when it came to day-to-day learning, Jesus utilized a more potent method: hidden discipleship.

Hidden discipleship simply means it was unannounced.  Instead of being situated in a classroom, Christ’s discipleship was wrapped in real life.

For instance, Jesus didn’t announce, “Today I am going to teach you lesson seven: God will supply your every need.” No, instead, He took advantage of a real-life situation where masses of people were hungry. He involved the apostles in searching for a solution. Then, he took their incomplete understanding -five loaves here and two fish- (Matthew 14:13-21) and demonstrated His sufficiency. He even put an exclamation point on the lesson by giving each apostle a basketful of leftovers.

Jesus took advantage of another real-life…

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Bible ReadingA Discipleship Deficit

Lately there’s been a lot of talk about spiritual formation and discipleship, and rightfully so. I think we can all agree there’s a discipleship deficit in evangelicalism. Perhaps the elephant in the room is that there isn’t a whole lot of discipling going on, even though that’s precisely what we, as Jesus’ followers, were commissioned to do.

So leaders are asking questions like, “What should we do?” and “How should we do it?” There are plenty of successful models that have been tried in a variety of contexts. But how can we best make disciples right where we are?

What if, before buying the latest discipleship book, we looked to Scripture to find out what God says about discipleship? In this series of articles, we’ll look at four discipleship principles found in God’s Word:

  • Maturity is a goal for disciples.
  • God wants you and your church on a clear path toward spiritual growth.
  • God involves us in our own growth, as well as our church’s growth.
  • God calls you and your church to be spiritual leaders.

Moving toward Maturity

First, we have to recognize that maturity is the goal of discipleship. Keeping people spiritually immature is…

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RewiredSpiritual growth campaigns have always been a powerful way to move a church forward, and with the rapid adoption of social media by the people in the pews, there has never been a greater opportunity to create, stimulate, and propagate a conversation among your people about what God is doing in their midst. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and a myriad of other online social networks are merely examples of how technology is helping our culture catch back up with God’s original plan for his Good News to be carried via interpersonal communication.

God’s Good News spreads furthest and fastest through personal connections and conversations.

Growth happens with intentional focus, so whether you are simply beginning a new message series or launching a full-blown campaign on the scale of “What on Earth Am I Here For?” you will need a strategy for empowering people to further the conversation with their friends.

Here are some things to consider:

Evaluate and expand your library of content. Content is currency. The people writing the books, blogs, and tweets that offer the most valuable information are ultimately purchasing trust and influence, and no one has better content on hand than…

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Singles

“I don’t belong here.” That was the first thought that entered my mind when I walked into the room labeled, “singles.”

I had recently relocated and was interested in building relationships in my new church home. On that particular Sunday morning, I was greeted in the Church entrance and asked what kind of class I would like to attend. After a short discussion, the greeter led me to a small classroom upstairs.

To be honest, I felt like I had been dropped off in the “lost and found” box for Christians. Other than being single, “What else could I possibly have in common with these people?” I thought.

You see, the term, “single” has multiple meanings. It can refer to a 26-year old graduate student who has never been married, a 43-year old divorcee and mother of three, or a 74-year old widower, or a million different other combinations!

I sat down and waited for the lesson to begin. My mind was filled with curiosity as I scanned the room. “I wonder what his story is?” “What brought her to this class?”

The lesson was great. But what was even better was the discussion. It was during that…

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Springs OcalaAllow me to clarify that this article is an adaptation from Will Mancini’s book Innovating Discipleship!

“How do you want your church to be different two years from now?”  The typical answer is, “We want more people!”  That can be expressed in different forms such as; “We want our auditorium full!” or “We want to start more small groups!” or “We want to see our attendance grow by 10%!” or “We want to start additional services so more people can attend!”  Everyone wants more people and more people is good.  Jesus wants more people and we should count people because people count.  The problem is when the numbers become the end result.

It is interesting that we do not hear the following very often: “We want to see more people desperate for Jesus!” or “We want to see our homes strengthened and more families having devotionals together!” or “We want to see our students on fire for God and living on mission to reach their campus for Christ!” or “We want to see more members building meaningful relationships with people who are far from Christ!”  Yet, despite a…

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Small Groups

Yesterday I asked the question, “What have you designed your groups to make?”  Answering my own question, I said, “Our small groups are designed to make followers of Jesus.”  And I must admit that my answer begs the question, “what kind of group will make disciples or followers of Jesus?”  See also, What Have You Designed Your Groups to Make?

What kind of group will make disciples…or followers of Jesus?

We could also ask, “What would have to be true about a group for it to make followers of Jesus?”

Good questions…don’t you think?

I’m sure there are more than these 5, but I don’t believe you can actually make followers of Jesus without these.  See what you think.

5 essential ingredients of groups that make followers of Jesus:

  1. The presence of a person who can say, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).”  How far ahead must they be?  A step or two.  Note: This person (or these people) may not need to be the leader of the group.  See also, 8 Habits of a Life-Changing Small Group Leader and Groups of All Kinds and the Essential Ingredients of Life-Change.
  2. A curriculum focused on learning…

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Churches DisciplingThe church where I formerly pastored, Wyatt Baptist Church of El Dorado, Arkansas, is one of the most mission-minded churches I know of. Every year they send a large percentage of church members around the world in partnership with various missionaries. One of the missionary families they partner with is Oscar and Tamy Gaitan of Centro De Vida Church in Catarina, Masaya, Nicaragua.

Centro De Vida naturally became Wyatt’s sister church. In fact, over the years, several of the members of Wyatt have moved to Catarina for periods of time and likewise, several members of Centro De Vida have moved to El Dorado for periods of time. We even had a Wyatt girl and a Centro De Vida boy get married!

But Centro De Vida became more than a sister church to Wyatt while I was there. Centro De Vida became a mentor to Wyatt.

Did you know it is possible for churches to disciple other churches? While the Bible doesn’t explicitly use that terminology, it is evident that churches have the privilege of influencing and edifying one another for kingdom work.

One great example is in I Thessalonians 2:14 where Paul writes to the church in…

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