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 Director of Adult Ministry Publishing at LifeWay Christian Resources 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 served as 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. Currently, I am a Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship. We are a multisite church in Nashville determined to make an impact on our city and world. I’ve coauthored two books: Compelled: Living the Mission of God and Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow. I am also the general editor of The Mission of God Study Bible. Along the way, I have also written the small-group studies 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. My wife, Angie, and I live in Tennessee, with our two sons, Andrew and Chris.

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Recent Comments
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

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