guest post by Darren Schalk
Discipleship has become quite the buzzword. Books, conferences and writings abound on the topic. Most churches understand the need for discipleship but many are struggling to create effective discipleship strategies. Here are 5 reasons why your discipleship strategy may be stuck:
- You Don’t Actually Have a Strategy – Most churches claim to have a discipleship strategy. Midweek meetings, Sunday school classes, small groups and other gatherings are frequently mentioned when asked to describe the strategy. Meetings don’t entail a strategy. Churches need a discipleship plan that encompasses everything they do based on their congregation’s specific biblical needs. Leadership teams should ask, “What will it take for our people to take the next steps toward maturity in Christ?” A specific plan should be created based on the answer to this question.
- You Haven’t Properly Identified What “Discipleship” Means – Few churches define discipleship the same way. Every leadership team should develop a unified definition of discipleship. Our team defines discipleship as “the lifelong process of following and maturing in Christ.”
- You Haven’t Tracked Your Discipleship History – When creating a discipleship strategy, it is very important to analyze the discipleship history. What has been taught in small groups or classes for the past year? What messages have been preached? What outreaches took place in the community? When you analyze what’s been/being done you can get a clear picture of where you need to go.
- You Haven’t Truly Identified The Needs of Real People – Knowing what has been taught and shared is not enough. Churches should understand the real needs of the people. What is the makeup of your congregation? Do new believers understand the basic fundamentals of faith? Do seasoned believers need to be motivated? Do you have biblically illiterate Christians who need a better understanding of the Bible? If you haven’t identified specific spiritual gaps, you certainly can’t effectively help people mature in the faith.
- You’ve Complicated the Process – It’s easy to overreach when trying to disciple. There are so many different areas to be addressed. Churches should keep discipleship simple by identifying the most pressing needs, addressing them for a season, then moving on to the next set of needs. Discipleship should be a continuous cycle.
Discipleship should be intentional. Don’t disciple people haphazardly. Pay attention to what goes on in your church and create a plan to intentionally help believers mature in the faith. You won’t regret it and neither will they.
Darren promotes discipleship around the globe and serves on several interdenominational boards that are focused on discipleship. His book from Charisma House, “Stuff I Hate About God: Why He Doesn’t Do Things My Way” will be available nationwide on October 1st. Follow Darren on Twitter or read his blog for more insight on discipleship.