This is the third post in a four-part series on the topic of “Discipleship.”
Discipleship should play a large role in the life of the local church. As much as I would love for church to be easy, it is not. As a pastor, I wish that life-on-life discipleship wasn’t necessary, or at least easier. I wish that disciples could be made at a one-time event and we could move on. But it isn’t.
Discipleship, as I’ve written in earlier blog posts, is not easy. It hardly ever is. It is rarely fun at first. Now, discipleship can become fun and enjoyable, but, first, we must work at the commitment and discernment aspect of discipleship.
This is where the local church comes in. The church must encourage its congregants to make disciples. Believers are all called to make disciples. We are united under that. The pastor and leadership of the church should always encourage its members to be involved in the making of disciples. This includes pastors, leaders, teachers, elders, deacons, committee chairs, and volunteers. From the person least involved to the overachieving volunteers (overachieving is not negative in this sense), all must be involved in the making of disciples.
Discipleship should be modeled in a biblical way by the church’s leadership. The pastor cannot encourage his members to be involved in discipling relationships if he himself is not willing to take part in them as well. Discipleship should also be encouraged from the pulpit. The preaching ministry of the church, in most cases, is its highest attended ministry. The sermon is the time when the entire church is hearing truth corporately. Therefore, if discipleship is viewed as essential from this platform, then the congregation will know its importance. The preacher should challenge his audience to response. There are many responses to sermons, coming from the application portion of a sermon, but one of them is obedience to the Word. This obedience comes in many forms and ways, but one of them specifically is for the believer to make disciples. The pastor must call on his congregation to make disciples.
The church should also create opportunities for its attenders to make disciples. This can come through small groups, Bible studies, etc. These ministries should involve aspects that are crucial in discipleship: Bible teaching/learning, strong and trusted relationships, and a passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ. In every discipleship-centered ministry in the church, teaching of the Bible should be a priority. The church builds its theology and doctrine not only through the pulpit, but also through these ministries. The congregants should discover their theology through studying the Bible together, and learning in a different environment than the preaching ministry. When united under similar theology, discipleship in small groups can continue to build the people involved. Strong and trusted relationships within the church and its ministries are key to discipleship as well. Without trust in a relationship, people are not willing to lean on one another in times of need. Some of the best times for discipleship come within the storms of life. Trust and a willingness to be, simply, a good friend build strong discipling relationships. The disciple-making ministries of the church must also be centered on the gospel of Christ. People within these ministries must understand the power of the gospel for repentance of sin, and have a passion to not only teach it non-believers, but each other in a continual manner. People within discipling relationships must always be in awe together of the grace of Jesus, and His continued work in our lives.
In the church, all ministries should be focused on discipleship. This discipleship should be focused on the gospel. When the church realizes that disciples are not made in one-night events, but over the course of a long period of time, biblical discipleship is possible. Every ministry should ultimately point to Jesus, who was completely concerned with discipling and living life with a small group. Discipleship is a necessity in the church. What are you doing to help the cause of discipleship in your church?