July 3, 2012 Tony Morgan

3 Components of a Healthy Discipleship Strategy

Lecture HallOne of the reasons why I love the leadership coaching networks that I facilitate is because of how I’m stretched in my own leadership. One of the key principles we talk about in the coaching networks has to do with implementing healthy systems and strategies. After teaching on that topic a few months ago, Robin, one of the senior pastors who is participating, reminded me of this verse:

“Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9, NLT)

You’ve probably heard me share in the past that teaching has the potential to shift someone’s thinking but systems have the potential to shift behaviors. In other words, teaching by itself does not equal a discipleship strategy. Teaching is only part of the discipleship strategy. As this verse confirms, we also need to model what we’re teaching and we need to encourage people to put what they learn into practice. That’s where healthy systems and strategies are critical.

Let’s take student ministry as an example. We can’t just gather a bunch of students together on Sunday or Wednesday evening and teach at them and assume discipleship is going to happen. We also need to engage students, particularly student leaders, in relationships where they can see the teachings being modeled. And, we need to create opportunities for them to put what they’re learning into practice. Our strategy needs to offer opportunities to for students to make disciples.

Are you avoiding “The Funnel of Doom”?

The same principle applies over every area of our ministry. Unfortunately, though, churches tend to invest most of their time on events rather than creating healthy strategies for discipleship. When we gather people for those events, we lean too much on teaching them (“The Funnel of Doom”) rather than modeling or creating systems to help them put what they learn into practice. The win becomes gathering as many people as possible to the event rather than helping as many people as possible become who God intended them to be.

According to Philippians 4:9, a healthy discipleship strategy needs to include:

  1. Solid biblical teaching for people to hear the truth
  2. Mentors who model what they are teaching for people to catch the truth
  3. Systems to encourage spiritual disciplines and mission engagement for people to practice the truth

Does your church or ministry have a discipleship strategy? If so, how does your strategy encourage engagement at all three levels? Join the conversation by sharing your comment.

And, if you’d like to join the upcoming leadership coaching networks, make sure you submit your application before the July 31 deadline.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group, theunstuckgroup.com. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.
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