4 encouragements for disciple-making in deeply established churches

August 13, 2020

Do you dream of a day when a movement of multigenerational disciple-making emerges in your community? Are you also connected with an established church that has deeply established cultural roots, norms and values?

If you answered “Yes” to both questions, welcome to the context in which many of us labor.

Many of us across the state pray and labor toward movement in an established church context. Many of us read about movements with awe and maybe even a sense of despair, knowing that the church should be doing more. Be encouraged to remain faithful, diligent and patient.

Here is some encouragement I’ve received along the way.

  1. Learn to dance
    In his book Union With Christ, Rankin Wilbourne writes of two songs playing in our heads at all times. The first song is the song of grace. It is the song that calls us to rest in Christ and His perfectly accomplished work. The second song is the song of obedience. We must follow. We must labor and we cannot stop. Learn to dance to the rhythm of both songs. My tendency is to focus on obedience and progress, failing to rest in the all-sufficient grace of Jesus.
  2. Change is hard
    It’s easy to say but infinitely more difficult to believe: change is really hard. As a pastor, I so desire change to come quickly. Waiting on the Lord is hard for me. For many faithful members of our established churches, the concept of multigenerational discipleship is new. Extend radical graciousness to those saints who seem hesitant. We are called to shepherd the saints along the way. It doesn’t mean that we leave people where they are, but it may require us to slow down a little and love them well through change.
  3. Jesus cares more than I do
    No matter how much you love the church and believe in the mission given to her, Jesus loves the church more. I have to remind myself that this church and this harvest is not my gift to the world or my project to fix. I must love the bride as Jesus does, because when I do, I always want more for her, but I can also enjoy the goodness that the church possesses with greater awe and joy.
  4. Don’t act on excitement alone
    I have confused my excitement for the Spirit’s call more times than I care to admit. When I have been desperate and the “right strategy” or “program” made its way across my desk, I was often far too quick to respond out of excitement, rather than out of true leading. I regularly pray this prayer from A Valley of Vision:


    “Help me never to mistake the excitement of my passions for the renewing of the Holy Spirit, never to judge my religion by occasional impressions and impulses, but by my constant and prevailing disposition.”

These are just a few things the Lord has taught me along the way as He graciously allows me to labor toward a disciple-making movement in an established church. It may be hard to see at times, but the Lord is working in established churches across the state. The work will be slow and we may not be the generation that gets to see it unleashed, but that’s alright; this is a long game.

As we labor together, let’s encourage one another to remain faithful, diligent and patient in the work to which we are called.


by Seth Norris 
/  Pastor  /  Perkinsville Baptist Church

Your generosity demonstrates being on mission together

I am blown away by the generosity of North Carolina Baptists. It’s amazing to see what God does and how He moves when independent, autonomous local churches come together for the shared mission of taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. This is what it means to be on mission...

Will the Supreme Court affirm the sanctity of life? Here are 5 specific ways you can pray

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments this week for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that has the potential to reshape the legal landscape surrounding abortion. It’s a key moment that could lead to more protections for preborn humans made in the image...

How to handle holiday stress without stressing out

Family. Just the word brings so many comforting and positive thoughts to mind: love, support, fellowship, unity, bond and closeness. Although family means all these things, there are some difficult words that come to mind as well: conflict, loss, hurt, disagreements and...

12 ways to build thanksgiving into your life

We have so much for which to be grateful today. I fear, though, that we too often limit our expressions of thanksgiving to only this day. Because the Apostle Paul tells us to “give thanks in everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:18), we need to practice thanksgiving. Here are some...

NC Baptists address sexual abuse at annual meeting

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) leaders took proactive steps to help churches prevent sexual abuse and care well for survivors during its recent annual meeting, which drew 1,150 messengers to the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center in Greensboro on Nov. 8-9....

NC Baptists celebrate being ‘On Mission Together’

GREENSBORO, N.C. — With an emphasis on the gospel and the Great Commission, North Carolina Baptists rallied around the theme of being “On Mission Together” during their 191st annual meeting, held Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 8-9 at the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center. The event drew 1,150 messengers...

2021 Annual Meeting: Day 2 highlights

More than 1,100 messengers from Baptist churches from across North Carolina gathered at the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, N.C., on Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 8-9 for the 191st Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSCNC) annual meeting. The theme of this...

Unzicker outlines Revelation 5 vision for NC Baptists

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- North Carolina Baptists must be people marked by gospel unity and evangelistic fervor, state executive Todd Unzicker declared to messengers attending the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSCNC) annual meeting on Monday, Nov. 8 at the Joseph S. Koury Convention...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay connected by signing up for the N.C. Baptist monthly newsletter.

Select Language ^

Share This

Share this with your friends!