I’ve given my life to building and strengthening the church locally in my zip code and globally—and one of the key things all churches are focused on doing is strengthening their process of making disciples. And I’m glad that this is at the forefront of the conversation since it’s the primary emphasis of the great commission that Jesus gave us.
In this article, I’m going to speak to 3 key essentials that our churches need to create a discipleship culture. This isn’t just a few notes on an exact conversation on what key things a new disciple needs to know—I have that in my new believer’s book called, “Following Jesus”.
This is speaking the broader issue of creating a culture, climate and atmosphere where discipleship and naturally happen and occur in our churches. Yes, there are classes and programs and processes that we and should implement to support that, but if we intentionally create the culture where discipleship naturally happens, then we set ourselves up to more effective.
Have a Vision to Reach Your City!
This might seem obvious, but the first step to creating a church culture where discipleship happens naturally is to have a deep seeded vision in your heart to reach the city that God has put you in. If your vision is just to create programs for the people in your church but not to stir your people up to reach and impact their city then you won’t inspire a culture of discipleship. Jesus’ call to us to make disciples was on the heels of calling us to GO! So, we go into all the world and then as a byproduct we “make disciples.” The passion and vision to reach a city will also force us as the pastors and leaders of the church and the people of the church to step up and truly live out this passionate relationship with Jesus.
Develop a Discipleship Culture
When I say that we need to create a discipleship culture, I don’t mean we need to create a discipleship class, I mean that we need to create an environment within our church community that naturally fosters discipleship.
There are many things I can write, which I’ll cover at length in my “Make Disciples” book coming out soon. But, let me note a few things here.
- Create space for people to encounter the presence of God within your church. If people don’t have a passionate and personal relationship with Jesus, than they most likely won’t be stirred to be someone who makes disciples.
- Develop a highly relational culture. Discipleship always happens best within relationships. Most of the context of Christianity is around a dinner table and community. If you fight for true and authentic friendships, then you’ll see discipleship happen more naturally. What I mean is that the Apostle Paul said, follow me as I follow Christ. And that is how it’s designed to be. Discipleship Programs cannot replace the power or need for community. If as a church, you foster more connections and people spending time together, then you’ll see spiritual maturity increase. Things you can do to make that happen… small groups, discipleship groups, essentials classes….
- Another key to creating a culture of discipleship is that we foster a culture of empowerment. This means that if we’re going to develop and draw out the spiritual maturity of people than we need to put a demand on that part of them to rise. So, when we call people up out of comfort zones and into their calling, you’ll find people step up and mature.
Have a Clear Next Step
This is such a huge part of creating a strong discipleship culture in your church. This is key both the person wanting or needing to be discipled and for the church family to more effectively be able to help move people along the path of discipleship.
One of the big keys within a church that wants to make disciples is that we first have to call people to that point of decision to Follow Jesus. If we don’t know that or we haven’t given them that clear call, they could be going through the spiritual motions but not actually having a relationship with God through what Jesus did on the cross! So, in your altar call or however you do it, make sure there’s a clear next step for a new believer to follow. After they say yes to Jesus, “What’s Next?”. The new believer needs to know and you want to train your whole church to know what’s next so that you can direct them to that small group or at to the course on Sundays. In my latest e-course on Discipleship & Assimilation Essentials, I walk through in detail our pathway and step by step of discipleship and assimilation.
We’re praying for you and want to continue to partner up with you as you make disciples. We have the Following Jesus books as a gift, and if you haven’t yet, take the short 2hr Discipleship and Assimilation Essentials E-course.