One question that has been on my mind a great deal lately is, “What has Covid made possible?” It has in many ways served as a refiner’s fire, exposing pain, anxiety, and brokenness. I am thinking of friends and family who are struggling financially, mentally, and emotionally. Right now we all have people in our lives who are struggling. People are thinking on spiritual things more than they have in a long time, connecting with their spirituality and seeking authenticity.
People are thinking on spiritual things more than they have in a long time, connecting with their spirituality and seeking authenticity. Click To Tweet
I believe that God has something to offer them… and we have the hope of the gospel to offer the world in times of uncertainty. We can cast vision and create excitement about sharing the hope we have, making disciples, and serving as the hands and feet of Jesus in the world around us.
I believe we, as the church, have answers that address much that pains this world. But there are barriers. For many, the church is no longer considered a safe space, and is certainly not the go-to in times of trouble that it once was. What worked in the past will be less effective moving forward. “Come and see” needs to become “Meet you where you’re at.” The message is the same, but the delivery method needs to change.For many, the church is no longer considered a safe space, and is certainly not the go-to in times of trouble that it once was. What worked in the past will be less effective moving forward. Click To Tweet
Three powerful shifts that can help your church engage with what is possible
Do you see discipleship as mentoring within the church? You would not be alone if you do. But that kind of inward focus is dangerous: it’s the approach 100% of declining churches are taking. Don’t allow your world of discipleship to be too small. Maintaining an outward focus means building a culture that multiplies discipleship outward into the real world. It’s the practice of the Great Commandment supporting the work of the Great Commission. Think of the harvest and embrace what is possible in Christ!Don’t allow your world of discipleship to be too small. Maintaining an outward focus means building a culture that multiplies discipleship outward into the real world. Click To Tweet
2. Redefine discipleship to include disciplemaking.
Discipleship isn’t just about doing good things and growing in your walk with God. It’s also about making new disciples. In Matthew 28:19, Jesus lays out the mission of the church when he says, “Go and make disciples of all nations…” The verb here is active: make. This means make disciples of those who are not yet a disciple of Jesus. This could look like culturally appropriate and relevant evangelism. It must look like intentionally building relationships with people who need Jesus and engaging in spiritual conversations with them.
If we can move toward meeting people where they are at, listening to their hearts, looking for the work the Holy Spirit has started in them and affirming it, we can help them take their next step toward Jesus. This is the work of every single person who has received the grace of God found in Jesus Christ.Discipleship must look like intentionally building relationships with people who need Jesus and engaging in spiritual conversations with them. Click To Tweet
3. Reengaging the Church Body in the ministry of Christ
Throughout this season of isolation and thinking on what Covid has made possible, I’ve often been drawn to Matthew 9:36-38:
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” (NLT)
It has been observed that 20% of the people do 100% of the work. I’ve heard this spoken in many a leadership meeting. This is not how the Body of Christ is intended to function. Paul casts vision for what is possible with Christ in Ephesians 4:16:
“[Christ] makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (NLT)
To ensure that the gospel continues to advance all Christians need to be equipped and empowered to live out the Great Commandment and the Great Commission — to grow in their faith and share it with others. Consider:
- What are the essentials people need to help others come to Christ?
- How are you working to equip your congregation with these essentials and to empower them to work the fields, building redemptive relationships?
The Discipleship Difference- Every person is different and we all reflect God in different ways. So why is our typical approach to discipleship the same across the board? The Discipleship Difference lays out an intentional, holistic, and relational approach to discipleship that is individualized to meet each person wherever they are. Also available in Spanish.
Leadership Skills Guides- Looking for leaders but not finding them? Develop them! This comprehensive set of Leadership Skills Guides will help you develop 37 essential leadership skills in others. It’s likely that your potential leaders already show competence in some areas. We developed these guides to be used nonlinearly so you can meet people where they are at help them take the next best step in their development.
Upcoming Fuller DMin: Leading for Healthy Growth
Are you ready to plan for healthy growth?
Especially during these challenging times, it’s important that we zero in on the essentials. The program focuses on missional discipleship, transformational leadership, and fruitful ministry.
Together, these components create a simple ministry flow that results in healthy ministry growth, flourishing churches, and communities reached with the gospel. We’ve put together a cohort that helps you live into each of these areas in turn.
If you’d like more information on the cohort, you can find it here.