Helping people grow more spiritually mature is not a new concern for churches. It has been the goal all along. Developing a process of discipleship within your church structure, however, is a strategic issue that has been terribly neglected. Rather than developing a clear path of discipleship for all believers, church for many has become a series of disconnected and incongruent programs and activities.
In order for churches to best communicate high expectations and biblical depth, a simple structure must be in place to guide and direct people towards these goals. One way to begin this process of simplification is to develop a quotable and memorable vision, mission, or purpose statement. From this statement should flow the entire process of discipleship. All programs and ministries of the church should fit under the umbrella of this statement.
Biblical depth is more important than the discipleship structure of the church. But churches that do not have a structure in place cannot move people towards an understanding of this depth. A culture of high expectations is more important than the structure of a church. Without this structure, however, a church has difficulty communicating these expectations. A multiplying church is more important than the structure. But without structure, people do not know how to multiply. The right structure is not the most important facet of a church, but most churches cannot carry out their most important purposes because they do not have the right structure.
Growing churches don’t look for answers – they look for questions. Specifically, questions related to identifying and formulating a discipleship process.
- How does our church define discipleship?
- What does a disciple look like?
- Do we have an intentional process of discipleship?
- Does our church know this process?
- How does this process relate to the purpose of the church?
- Has our church prioritized distinct practices that relate to the discipleship process?
- Does our church practice the principle of abandonment based on the idea that activity doesn’t always mean productivity?
- How does our church measure maturity?
- How does our community describe our church?
- Do our church families spend more planned time in a week at church with each other or in the community with non-believers?
There is nothing new or striking about these questions. But seeing them collectively is quite helpful. What other questions might be beneficial to ask of your church’s discipleship process?