9 Ways to Uncomplicate the Discipleship Process

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” -Leonardo da Vinci

Discipleship is at the heart of the church’s existence. We help unbelievers move to a point of belief and then to maturity. The maturity of the believer includes the making of other disciples. As many have put it, we are to be disciple making disciple makers. But, because we are humans who like systems, we tend to complicate the process. Here are a few principles to keep discipleship simple.

1. Biblically. The centerpiece of discipleship is God, not us. Using His self-revelaton as the pivot point for disciple making will keep us trained on God’s kingdom rather than our comfort.

2. Prayerfully. Focus the new disciple on a powerful prayer life and you will set them in the right direction. They need to see and learn why prayer matters.

3. Quickly. We need to move more quickly through discipling people rather than belaboring a process. It is easily accomplished if you will remove all the parts of your church process that are window dressing rather than ministry.

4. Urgently. The world is filled with people who are dying in their sin. The church is filled with Christians who are wallowing in spiritual infancy. The church simply has no time to dawdle. We need to live with and infuse a sense of urgency about the task of evangelizing the lost.

5. Relationally. Discipleship delivers content but that does not make it a sterile academic process. We are to personally engage with those who need to grow. Discipleship happens best with friends.

6. Spontaneously. Waiting for the right moment to start a process often means losing time with people’s real lives. Make discipleship something that can happen at any time. But that will mean that the heart and mind is prepared.

7. Methodically. Being spontaneous does not eliminate having a method. Discipleship needs to have a target to which it is aiming. Set the goal of the process and drive people toward it.

8. Passionately. To make disciples is the last command Jesus left us before the ascension. We must regularly test our hearts as to what is our priority. It should be increasing the number and the maturity of those who follow Jesus.

9. Naturally. Discipleship is not weird. It is the way that we put the world right. The gospel is the only thing that makes life make sense. Set your desires toward making disciples and then do it as the normal work of your life.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Philip Nation

Philip Nation

I serve as the pastor at First Baptist Church of Bradenton, Florida and frequently speak at churches and conferences. I earned a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2010-2012, I was the national spokesperson for the Back to Church Sunday campaign from Outreach. Over the years, I’ve served as a pastor, minister of education, and a church planter. In 2016, I published Habits for Our Holiness: How the Spiritual Disciplines Grow Us Up, Draw Us Together, and Send Us Out with Moody Publishers. I’ve coauthored two other books: Compelled: Living the Mission of God and Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow. I was also the general editor of The Mission of God Study Bible. Along the way, I have written the small-group studies Storm Shelter: Psalms of God’s Embrace, Compelled by Love: The Journey to Missional Living and Live in the Word, plus contributed to The Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God’s Mandate in Our Lifetime.

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Recent Comments
In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
 
— Jonathan Schultheis
 

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