OUR BIBLICAL PRIORITIES
I think we can all agree that we have four main biblical priorities.
Number One is found in Acts 1:8 where we are told to be witnesses into all the world.
Number Two, I think we could agree that this is the Church Age described in Acts 9:31 where churches are multiplied. That is a biblical priority in this time period.
Number Three is that according to 2nd Peter 3 :18 that each believer should grow in grace and become Christ like.
Number Four would be found in 1 Corinthians 10:31 where it says that our lives are to bring glory to God, whatever we do and everything about us is to be for God's glory.
Now what I have seen is all these biblical priorities can be tied together by one simple, but profound activity. That activity is one on one discipleship. When you are trying to reach people with the Gospel you are performing that priority. Once they receive Christ you want to incorporate them into the local Church so that they can grow and become Christ-like. The way they can grow in grace is to be discipled personally, and fed to grow in the Word of God. According to John chapter 14, this activity of multiplying disciples brings glory to God.
So our biblical priorities can be summed up in those four areas, and they can all be tied together by one activity of multiplying disciples one on one.
DISCIPLESHIP CAMPS AND RETREATS
A great way to accelerate the discipleship ministry of your church is to schedule weekend or multi-day discipleship camps and retreats. These are especially helpful after holidays and summer breaks, or other busy schedules in the church.
The purpose is to help the disciples and disciplers to connect even deeper together, as well as to catch up on any lost time and lessons. This is a great way to help them to connect together and should be given lots of time to meet together as well as additional training on the importance and the biblical nature of the discipleship ministry.
Discipleship camps and retreats are also a great way to introduce other churches that are interested in discipling. You can have their potential disciplers meet for a few days with your disciples for training and to learn from their experiences.
This is a proven plan; one that is not utilized enough.
THE CHURCH A CENTER FOR DISCIPLESHIP
The first component is leadership, where discipleship is in the hearts of leaders. You cannot really see disciples multiply properly, except in a local church. That is why the navigators have not won the world for Christ. Because it takes a shepherd to move the sheep and decide who should meet with whom.
You can't just send the sheep out into the field and say “get out there and multiply.” It will not happen, there has to be a shepherd to protect them and guide them. The local church is really meant to be a discipleship center, a place where the sheep multiply. I think when Jesus said to Peter “Do you love me?” he first said feed my lambs, and the second time he said feed my sheep, because lambs are to mature to become sheep. And the third time he said feed my sheep because sheep are to reproduce other sheep.
If it is in the heart of the leader then that’s what they will focus on. If the Pastor cheerleads small groups, then small groups are going to have some success. But are they going to have disciplers out of the small groups? Well, pastors are saying “No, we don’t. 95% of the people we don’t trust to disciple a new Christian.” Whatever the pastor champions, or cheerleads is going to grow, the people will follow.
The challenge is to focus on the most productive strategy and to do what we were commanded to do.
ANY CHURCH AN EXAMPLE
The Bible, in the New Testament, gives us admonitions many times about being an example to others. Now when this comes to churches there are many that feel like other churches are an example to follow and watch what they do, and many times imitate other churches and ministries.
The fact is that in the United States only 1% of all Bible-preaching churches ever run more than one thousand. Even though the 99% are great ministries and are reaching people and planting other churches, they may feel like they have not attained success.
Let me challenge that definition of success. Any church that is reaching people with the Gospel, and discipling those new believers to become disciple-makers, those churches are an example to follow. Because the planting, growth and outreach of churches from that point on will be determined by the Holy Spirit's plan and direction for that ministry.
So any church can be an example to follow. Any church can be a church that is a pattern, if that church is following the example set out in the New Testament.
Multiplying disciples one on one is not a new plan, it is the original plan. It is not a new pattern to follow, it is the original pattern to follow. So your church can be a church that should be followed.
YOUR FIRST YEAR IN JOURNEY
Begin to schedule every month:
Church fellowships for those involved in Discipleship.
A time for you to speak to the disciplers with their disciples.
Fellowships for the disciplers and their disciples to have bonding time together.
Plan ways to integrate One-on-one discipleship education, exposure and experience into the life of the church.
Begin to speak about the importance of having a church purpose/mission statement that reflects your local/global passion for making disciples.
Either create a purpose statement or review/revise your current statement.
Challenge the entire congregation with a global vision to multiply Disciple Makers.
Ask for commitments regularly to become a Disciple-Maker or a Disciple. It takes time to see the results of One-on-one discipleship. Be patient and the results will come.
Begin consideration of the Church budget and staff needed for Discipleship. Should you hire full-time Soul Winning Disciple Makers?
Schedule follow-up Discipleship Workshops every 6 months.
Develop banners, bulletin inserts, and other public messages to be placed around the church.
Schedule testimonies from Disciplers and Disciples in the church services.
Schedule outreach events to gain disciples for your Disciplers.
Schedule Special Events
“Catch-up” Weeks and Weekends after vacations and holidays.
Discipleship Training of other Churches in other cities and countries.
The next Levels of Discipleship begin when…
Disciples are becoming Disciplers every month, then every week, then every day.
Disciplers want to do more in the ministry.
New congregations need to start, etc.
Additional strategies are explained as those levels are achieved.
HELPING OTHER CHURCHES
When disciple-makers are emerging in the church, doors around the world begin to open and churches you fellowship with will request your help.
This is a great encouragement to your church and your individual disciplers; they will see God use them in places they never thought possible.
Disciplers can go on mission trips and do much more. Disciplers can go to mission fields for 3 months, 6 months, etc. and make a permanent impact for Christ in real people who will do the same in their country.
It's impossible to describe how God uses and wants to use a disciple multiplying local church. Get started and we would be thankful to assist in any way.