Seven Disciplemaking Imperatives in Your Church

Churches across the globe have begun to realize the importance of the biblical mandate (Matt. 28:19–20) for disciple-making, and are imagining the transformation of lives and the culture where their church exists. Church leaders like you are dreaming of a congregation and community saturated with mature followers of Christ willing to do whatever it takes to further God’s Kingdom.

As you contemplate that dream, consider these 7 imperatives to disciple-making.

1. Whether your church is a church WITH small groups or OF small groups, if your church is making disciples who make disciples you are accomplishing the Great Commission.

2. Curriculum is not the key to making disciples, however choosing the right curriculum at the right time is important. Disciples are made as the Holy Spirit works in tandem with a human disciple-maker to move a disciple to be more like Christ. Curriculum is simply an important tool in the disciple-making process.

3. It is vital that the pastor and all staff members of any disciple-making church be the leader of a disciple-making group of or is involved in a disciple-making group. If any of these key leaders choose not to be part of the disciple-making ministry, others will find no need to be involved themselves.

4. The most important promoter of the disciple-making ministry must be the senior pastor.

5. Pray that God would lead you to the right people to be your first disciple-makers. Jesus prayed prior to choosing His, it is vital that we do the same.

6. It is vital that the group’s first studies teach the disciple basic spiritual disciplines, doctrines, and practices of a disciple in relation to the church they are members of. While felt-need studies and sermon based discussions have a place in the church, a disciple without a firm foundation to stand on will easily become self-focused and begin to serve themselves rather than focusing on the cross and Jesus’ Kingdom agenda.

7. Utilizing a “reproducible process” is the key to long-term success. It has been proven that disciples who make disciples are much more likely to do so if they utilize the same principles and practices as well as the same curriculum as those who discipled them. It is for this reason that I recommend training every group leader using the Real Life Discipleship Training Manual and that each group do the three studies, Growing Strong in God’s FamilyDeepening Your Roots in God’s FamilyBearing Fruit in God’s Family, as their foundational and first studies.

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Barry Sneed

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I love Ed's writings and heart. I am frustrated by these articles, however. Much of the missiological basis of the Church Growth Movement are not mentioned, and the origination of the formulas are not substantiated. Also, the Movement via Wagner, started mentioning the importance of health over 3o years ago. I wish these articles were better researched and less sweeping in their generalizations. Things like E1, E2, E3 evangelism, group multiplication, relational networks, faith, health, and the care to measure the right things are largely missing here. Perhaps Ed has earned the right to generalize, but I still was disappointed. But keep researching Ed! Ed and Thom have continued on in the spirit of the movement by doing quality research, and for that I am deeply grateful.
 
— Gary Westra
 
This discussion will continue, for sure. I am tasked with the online worship ministry do our church at FBC Trussville and it is proving to be an important piece of the overall ministry. As in most things In life and technology, balance is in order. Many of our older adults prefer the "live" service online rather than a week or even day-later DVD or downloaded service. They tell me it is important for them to be a part while the service occurs. This is key because if a person simply wanted the message or music or to see the pastor because they "like" him, then it would not need to be live. There is a sense with our people that they need to experience the worship with their church family in real time. Theologically, folks will have issues. This is a disruptive technology for church. But I would hope that before we toss it all away we would approach it with wisdom and humility. Personally, I would like to see the Church grow through small, cost-effective ways like this and not just brick-and-mortar.
 
— Robby
 
It seems this was written awhile ago but I would like to respond. Mr. Surratt makes great points. Points that should be taken seriously by all churches. I just do not think these points are the main reason people are not coming back to churches. Who knows the exact reason why anyone does not come back unless they tell you, but I can say with certainty the reasons I do not return are usually the same. 1. Love, tolerance, and acceptance. (unbelievers, baby Christians) Church members seem to want their guests or potential members to behave a certain way. They want them to conform to the system that is already in place. In some ways this is understandable. In other ways, it is isolating to the guest. They want to feel loved and accepted the way they are. They want to be told everything is ok no matter their past. They want to be given time to work out their immediate more pressing issues without having to worry about what to wear and how to talk (church speak). 2. Love, tolerance, and acceptance (believers, unchurched) Many times, these people are looking for what fits their already preconceived ideas of what "good churches" are. These preconceived notions are difficult to overcome and some of them were addressed in Mr. Surratt's article. But I can tell you that a truly loving, a truly tolerant, and a truly accepting church can overcome most of these things. You may never be able to overcome a taste in music, or a theological difference, but most everything else can be healed with Love. 3. People can see the business aspect of the church. I see it almost immediately when I walk into certain churches for the first time. I think people understand that a church has many aspects of itself that are business oriented. I just believe they dont want to experience these aspects when they visit. How many churches are so focused on growth, in numbers of bodies, that they forget the growth of the heart? The American church is now fully Americanized. Its a show and a numbers game. People come to church, especially new comers, CRAVING to fill a void in their life. If you are offering the same thing they can get in the real world, how are you any different? There are plenty of other reasons people do not return and many may not be avoidable. However, the church as a whole needs to reevaluate the arena in which they are playing. The simplicity of the Gospel is good enough to fulfill the hearts of the unbelievers and restore the prodigal's to a relationship with Christ. Love thy neighbor as thyself and love thy God with all your heart.
 
— Shay Wallace
 

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