How to Point the Way and Clear the Path to Effective Discipleship

I get asked all the time how we do discipleship at Elevation. Related to this question, I also get asked how we follow up with new believers.

Do we relentlessly call people until they’re in a small group?
Do we offer 57 Bible studies for people to grow in their faith?
Do we provide a yearlong systematic theology course for new believers?

We do have specific and practical things that we do. But when it comes down to it, our philosophy is pretty straightforward and simple:

  1. We point the way 
  2. We clear the path.

1) We point the way.
Ultimately, there’s nothing we can do to force people to grow in Christ. Nothing. So whether we offer a 26-option discipleship program or a 4-option one really doesn’t matter. If someone really doesn’t want to grow, they’re either going to say no 4 times or 26.

For that reason, we keep it pretty simple.

We give new believers material to help them grow in the initial stages of their faith and we call and encourage them to get plugged in. We constantly stress the importance of small groups. We faithfully proclaim the Word and encourage people to read it for themselves. In short, we point the way to what it looks like to have a relationship with Jesus for themselves.

If they decide not to walk that way, that’s their decision. And we’ve made the decision that we’re not going to chase all of them down if they don’t.

Some people might say to this: Is that what Jesus would do?

I don’t have to wrestle with that question because it’s exactly what Jesus did. Jesus didn’t hook his finger in people’s noses to make sure they were following him. When you read through the gospels, Jesus always cast His net extremely wide. Everyone was invited to follow. But He didn’t chase people down if they weren’t committed (as in the case of the rich young ruler).

The call was to follow Him. Not be dragged kicking and screaming behind Him.

All He did was point the way. To Himself.

 

2) We clear the path.
This is where our greatest responsibility comes into play. If we’ve pointed the way clearly and people are responding, it’s our job to make sure the path is clear for them when they decide to walk on it. There’s no room to drop the ball when it comes to people’s spiritual development. If they’re taking a step towards Christ, we’ve got to make sure that step lands unobstructed.

In other words, we’ve got to make sure our systems and processes are running at full speed. And running efficiently. If someone wants to get in a small group, we’ve got to follow up with them quickly. If someone needs counseling, we need to get them into it right away, and into the best counseling available.

Whatever approach your church uses to pull the maximum God-given potential out of people, it really doesn’t matter. Whether you take people through a five-year development plan. Or you just put them into small groups and let the growth happen more organically. Your responsibility is ultimately the same either way:

1) Point the way to Jesus clearly.
2) Clear the path to Him effectively.

Let’s commit to doing both with excellence so we can see our people become all that God has designed for them.

Read more from Steven here.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steven Furtick

Steven Furtick

Pastor Steven Furtick is the lead pastor of Elevation Church. He and his wife, Holly, founded Elevation in 2006 with seven other families. Pastor Steven holds a Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also the New York Times Best Selling author of Crash the Chatterbox, Greater, and Sun Stand Still. Pastor Steven and Holly live in the Charlotte area with their two sons, Elijah and Graham, and daughter, Abbey.

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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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