How to create a comprehensive disciple-making strategy for your church

June 8, 2021

As summer arrives in full force, it may be difficult to think about fall ministries. Planning, recruitment, schedules and programming lie ahead, but have you ever asked the question, “What if our preschool, children’s, youth and adult ministries were viewed as layers in one comprehensive plan for disciple-making for the entire church?”

The most effective disciple-making requires intention, focus and the creation of a clearly stated strategy for all ages. Many discipleship plans written by churches focus solely on adult discipleship and fail to account for adult leadership in the home and a corresponding focus on children and youth.

What would happen if your church developed a disciple-making plan for a broad spectrum of ages and ministry contexts?

Here are some keys points to consider as you develop a comprehensive disciple-making plan:

  • Have a clear understanding that disciple-making involves both evangelism and discipleship. The two should complement each other and work toward a single goal of “Making disciples who make disciples.”
  • Remember that a vision and plan for a fully formed disciple of Christ begins in preschool.
  • Time must be spent in developing key pillars and values that define the disciple-making culture in your ministry context. You may want to begin this conversation by asking the following: “A fully formed disciple of Christ at our church will be or do …”.
  • Have stated expectations of what each child, youth or adult will be taught at different ages and stages. Ministry should be designed to teach and reinforce these expectations. Lifeway has developed a helpful resource titled, “Levels of Biblical Learning.”
  • Know that disciple-making is more than what happens in a church classroom.
  • Leaders should commit to a timeline that reflects sequential teaching plans based on the predetermined key pillars and values.
  • Planning should happen with a multigenerational approach that has all ages heading in the same direction at the same pace.
  • Curriculum and programs must be viewed as tools and vehicles for disciple-making and not the definition of disciple-making. This article offers advice on choosing curriculum that fits your ministry needs.

Investing the time and effort to have an intentional plan for disciple-making can bring great benefits to your ministry. Leaders and volunteers will be able to clearly state both the why and the what of disciple-making, which can help with leader recruitment and retention. It minimizes “warm body” recruiting, especially in children’s ministries.

by Cheryl Markland  
/  Childhood Evangelism and Discipleship  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

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