If you are like the leaders I meet with regularly, then discipleship is something you want to get right. Easier said than done. Much like recovery from addiction, being transformed into the image of Christ requires focus on self—why do I do what I don’t want to do? But to remain inwardly focused eventually stunts growth. A triple focus is required to make more and better disciples for healthy church growth.
With over 40 years in ministry, I’ve honed in on ten dynamics for healthy church growth. They are durable and timeless. Specific methods may change over time, but these dynamics hold true today just as they did when I started my ministry, and for many centuries before that. In fact, if you look carefully at any successful church multiplication movement, you’ll see these same principles at work there. This series of blog entries covers the ten essential dynamics that allow a church to grow in ways that are healthy, effective, and multiplying. Last week, I talked about culturally relevant ministry, this week, I am looking at dynamic #3 for healthy church growth—making more and better disciples.
Making More and Better Disciples
Making more and better disciples: Sustaining an outward focus that makes and grows new disciples of Jesus as we ourselves are growing more into his likeness as well.
The clear and unequivocal mission that Jesus left us with is to make disciples. That means both making new disciples (evangelism) and continuing to grow ourselves and others toward maturity in the faith (often called discipleship, teaching, or growth). Separating one of these from the other does not work, as they are interdependent. To be a living and growing disciple of Jesus includes following his directive to make more disciples. Making more disciples helps us grow in our own journey of faith and obedience as we learn to know God better. The relationship is cyclical.
3 Required Elements
As followers of Jesus, we are called to share the gospel and make new disciples of Jesus. We are also called to grow toward maturity in faith and walk alongside others as we help each other grow. A holistic path for making more and better disciples in obedience to the great commission includes.
- Make more new disciples of Jesus.
- Grow as a disciple of Jesus yourself
- Journey alongside others as they also grow as disciples of Jesus.
5 Things You Can Do to Make More and Better Disciples
- Continue growing in the faith in your own walk of discipleship
- Meet people where they are at and share the gospel message in a way that will help them become new disciples of Jesus
- Walk alongside others as you help each other grow toward maturity in the faith
- Cast vision in the church for all three of these above
- Establish an assimilation process that helps people take the next step on their journey of discipleship
Listen to the Holy Spirit and take some time to assess how your church is currently doing in this area. Then identify some customized action steps you could take to strengthen this dynamic.
Guide for Discipling
Meeting people where they are at—like Jesus did—means discipleship is not linear. While you can create systems and programs to help people grow in their faith, everyone has a different starting point. We wrote the Guide for Discipling to be non-linear and highly customizable. Once you have experienced and established relationship with God and learned listen and respond to the Holy Spirit, you and others can grow as God leads.
We’ve worked hard to make discipleship guides that are accessible and culturally relevant. Guide for Discipling is available through Amazon in paperback and Kindle, downloadable as a set or individual guides, and have been customized to fit the cultures of the Vineyard, Lutheran, and Episcopal churches.
Guide for Discipling covers the 8 key ways Jesus helped his disciples grow: Experiencing God, Spiritual Responsiveness, Generous Living, Sacrificial Service, Personal Transformation, Disciplemaking, Authentic Relationships, and Community Transformation. Refresher courses in these areas are always needed—for ministers as well as those we are discipling.
Barnabas Coach Ministry
You can only do so much. Barnabas Ministry Training helps churches to create a culture of coming alongside others in order to help them identify their unique Kingdom calling and take their next steps to live into that calling. This kit includes everything you need to learn and teach the basics on ministry coaching.