The task of making and equipping disciples is the central task of the local church, and yet, we often rely on organic processes to make and equip disciples. An “organic process” in the local church is one that is undeveloped, lacks definition and has no true measures. Organic is not enough.
We must shift from mere organic to purposeful processes for the good of the kingdom. Whatever process you choose to implement should include some of the following principles related to equipping and making disciples.
A clearly defined pathway
When someone turns and believes in Jesus, they need to immediately know the next steps. I love board games because I can see the path forward. Choose or develop a process that has a clear path and the expectations along the path that will get them there. Frame the pathway with vision and keep it in front of people all the time. Vision needs process and process needs vision. Identify specific classes, trainings and other expectations to make it clear. Put it on paper, and print the pathway out for people to see from the beginning onward.
Loving accountability and goal-setting
Make the discipleship process a clear expectation of membership. Consider building time for goal setting and loving accountability in every class, meeting or training. End each meeting with some simple goal setting (Bible reading, gospel sharing, etc.), and start the following meeting by having everyone talk about how their goals are going.
Structured group meetings
Structured group meetings that include more than just teaching is essential. Group meetings should include time for vision and process language, loving accountability, goal setting and maybe even training time for gospel sharing or Bible study tools. Consider breaking your time into parts and letting members of the group facilitate different parts. This method will allow multiple people the opportunity to lead.
Simple and reproducible tools
Whatever tools you use to help you equip believers to make and equip other believers, utilize simple tools that are easily reproducible. Train with tools that can be written on a napkin, explained on a blank piece of paper, and reproduced at any time and any place. The “3 Circles” resource is an example of a simple and reproducible tool for sharing the gospel.
It takes a lot of repetition for us to really grasp something. Just like at the gym, the more reps we do, the stronger and more equipped we become. Do not rush to new content too quickly. Let people spend some time at each step in the pathway until they really get it. Whether its loving accountability or facilitating a part of a group meeting, get people to do the same thing several times.
Disciple-making is far too important for us to rely on loosely defined or organic processes alone. Whatever process you choose to implement in your context, make sure it is well defined and that members know the path.
These principles and processes are adapted from Gospel Conversations Training sponsored by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Adult Evangelism and Discipleship Team. These trainings explore these principles in more detail and address how they might look in your ministry context. To learn more or register for one of the trainings coming up this year, visit ncbaptist.org/gospelconversations.