Here Are 4 Keys Of Successful Discipleship

What's missing in your church's discipleship plan?

Maybe you remember the days before the first Nintendo console hit the scene in 1987.

There was Atari (the 2600 and the 5200). And Colecovision. And the Commodore 64.

My family had a couple of those. And we also had an Apple IIc.

Which means I spent a lot of time playing games like One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird.

And Family Feud.

Yep, there was a Family Feud game for the Apple IIc.

We're talking old school, Richard Dawson kissing-women, Family Feud.

You know that feeling in Family Feud when you've figured out 9 of 10 answers from the survey but there's one answer missing and you have two strikes against you?

It'll drive you crazy.

I can't tell you how many churches sound like a crazy family.

They're so close to figuring out discipleship.

But they're frustrated because it feels like one piece of the puzzle is missing. 

Sound familiar?

I've been there.

And here's what I've discovered.

Content matters more than environment.

What you say matters more than where you say it.

Think about this.

Does your church help people follow Jesus* by covering these bases?

1. Forming Spiritual Habits

How do you help people listen and respond to God?

Your theology and philosophy of ministry will shape what this looks like for your church.

From Bible reading plans to contemplative exercises, the practices of spiritual formation vary from church-to-church.

But here's one basic practice that you might be missing:

Teach your people how to read the Bible.

Pretty simple, right?

Well, you'd be surprised at how many churches don't do the simple stuff.

What about you - can your church pick up and English Bible and thrive without study Bibles and other resources?

2. Cultivating Their Emotions

How do you help people listen and respond to their heart?

The Christian life is the way life is supposed to be lived.

A life with God is the way that life works best.

But that life is impaired when we don't cultivate our feelings, needs, desires, longings, and hope.

And here is where most churches are underdeveloped in their discipleship.

They don't see that our desires are as critical as our doctrine.

One way to cultivate someone's spiritual root system is to get them into the Psalms.

Read the Psalms.

Sing the Psalms.

Memorize the Psalms.

Meditate on the Psalms.

Listen to the Psalms.

One way that I cultivate this in my life and the lives of others is the use of the Book of Common Prayer (start with the BCP Bible reading plan on the free YouVersion Bible app) because it keeps me in the Psalms every day, even while I am also reading other parts of the Scriptures.

3. Fostering Loving Relationships

How do you help people listen and respond to other people?

From family to friends to neighbors to co-workers, how do you help people love others as much as they love themselves?

Develop a basic set of practices, including:

Praying for other people.

Listening to other people.

Eating with other people.

Serving other people.

Sharing God's story with other people.

Help your church apply those practices in every relationship.

Marriage and parenting.

Life with non-Christians.

Life with other Christians.

Don't assume that your people know how to love people.

Don't assume that your people don't want to love people.

Help them connect the dots between principle and practice.

4. Blueprinting Vocational Development

How do you help people listen and respond to the mission of God?

Most churches teach people that work is incidental, not instrumental, to the mission of God.

Most churches don't teach against work.

They simply don't teach about work at all.

Unless, of course, they teach that work is valuable because it gives someone the opportunity to tell people about Jesus.

Don't get me wrong. Evangelism is vital for human flourishing.

But so is ordinary, everyday work done by ordinary everyday people.

Can I tell you what I've discovered?

When you connect Sunday to Monday, all the other pieces of discipleship fall into place.

When you help people see that work is vital, spiritual formation becomes vital.

When you help people see that work is vital, emotional health becomes vital.

When you help people see that work is vital, loving relationships become vital.

If connecting faith-to-work is new for you, pick up a copy of Tom Nelson's book, Work Matters.

You'll get a glimpse of what it looks like to include vocational development in the discipleship plan of a church.

Defining Success

The number of people you have in your discipleship pipeline is not the measure of success.

Success is not achieved by piecing together the right combination of resources and environments. 

Successful disciple-making engages the whole person.

Successful disciple-making forms spiritual habits.

Successful disciple-making embraces feelings, needs, and desires.

Successful disciple-making is a catalyst for loving relationships

Successful disciple-making persuades people that their work matters.

Is your church successful at making disciples?

Do The Next Right Thing

On a scale of 1-10, evaluate your church's success in each area of disciple making 

Ask other men and women in your church who are responsible for discipleship to read this and rate your church in each area.

Set up a time to share your scores and decide how you can improve your church's plan for making disciples. 

* Following Jesus is the basic way we describe discipleship in our church.

Question Of The Day

What was the first video game system you had in your home? 

Leave your answer in the comments section below.

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