This podcast was recorded at the Disciple-Making Conference breakout session training and focuses discipleship within church bodies. Today, 80 percent of churches are experiencing a plateau or decline in attendance. Yet most churches still offer an overwhelming menu of programs that assume people will go to church at designated times. How can today’s church leaders effect change that will draw people into church so they can experience spiritual transformation? How can Christians be encouraged to pursue discipleship and take the next step in their specific contexts and church bodies? Jay McGuirk explores how churches can be uniquely positioned to make disciples in a meaningful way through a pathway that includes worship, serving, community and giving.
Here is an excerpt from this podcast:
About 10 years ago, I joined the staff of First Baptist Church, Hattiesburg, Mississippi. We were a downtown, county seat, red brick, four white column, choir-having, suit-wearing First Baptist Church. They hired me to be the singles’ pastor. Without a doubt that was where God was telling me to be. After I’d been there about six months, the pastor, who’d been there about 20 years at that point, walked in to our staff one day and said, “I don’t like the fact that our church is in decline. All we’re doing is going through the motions. I want to reach lost people.” Not being from Mississippi, my first thought was: “This is Mississippi. I don’t think there are any lost people here.” Turns out there was: Only 30 percent of the population actually went to a church, even though 85 percent of the population said they were Christian. We said, “What if we went after the 70 percent no one wants to go after?” And we did. Lostness began to walk through the door even as traditional Christianity walked out the door. So here’s what we did. We ended up completely changing our discipleship culture. We went from 18 adult Sunday School classes to 43 small groups, about half of them led by people who had never done any kind of discipleship before. Here was the crazy thing: it worked. We changed our definition of a leader and began to create a culture of discipleship that matched who we were and put a priority on helping people follow Jesus. My passion for you and your church is to help you build a customized discipleship pathway for your church because your church is unique.
by Jay McGuirk / Preaching and Vision Pastor / The Austin Stone Community Church
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