When Jesus called His disciples it was not a call to membership but mission. So disciplingCHURCH is a set of practical tools to help church boards nurture a culture of discipling in their churches—where people enter into a process to become missionaries.
Here are 4 steps to help and encourage your church in this task.
The Five Discipling Actions provides an overall picture of the discipling process, enabling your church board to create a coordinated discipling strategy. These 5 Discipling Actions enables your board to guide an individual from being a stranger all the way through to becoming a missionary for Jesus Christ.
It is easy to be busy in a church. However, it is much more challenging to ensure that the activities we organise are intentionally focused on guiding people through the discipleship process without getting stuck before the last stage. Looking at the diagram, the culmination of the process is not church membership but active engagement in working for God’s Kingdom and purposes.
The greatest challenge for church leaders is to provide opportunities for individuals to be moving through the process, no matter what stage they are in the process.
You want to attract people towards God and His church. You want people to say to themselves, “that looks interesting” or “this will really help me!” The result of attracting people is that they want to visit you with a sense that you can help them in the next step in their spiritual journey. This concept of attraction must permeate the entire discipling process. It is about providing valuable content to the visitor, not simply forcing on your visitor something you think they must need.
While we want to attract everyone to Christ, there are some people that God is already working with and are open to His leading. These are the people we want to reach out to with something that they will really appreciate.
Once you have attracted visitors, the next step is to convert those visitors into contacts by obtaining their contact information. At the very least, you’ll need an email address or a telephone number. Without this contact information you have nothing to work with. Contact information is extremely valuable currency, so in order for your visitors to offer up that currency willingly, you need to offer them something in return. This exchange comes in the form of providing excellent content, like books/eBooks, how-to articles, sermon notes etc. It needs to be content that is interesting and valuable to your visitors. It is content that the Holy Spirit will prompt them to request. You don’t need to force it on them.
Once you have attracted visitors and have found a way to keep in contact with them by them requesting valuable content you are making available, the next step is to provide opportunities for them to participate in community life. This happens by providing different opportunities for them to establish and deepen their relationship with you. Again, the opportunities you provide to contacts for connection must be seen as valuable and useful, compelling and attractive.
You see people are participating in community life and enjoying the resources you are providing that makes a difference in their lives. The next step is to move these participants to become members.
This happens when you provide meaningful and attractive teaching. This teaching should be compelling because it exalts the person of Jesus and everything that He stands for, with the result that your participants want to devote everything they are, and have, to God.
Membership of a church is not a place of arrival for a participant. Jesus’ call to the first disciples was ot to remain with Him and listen to his teaching but to launch out into the world as missionaries. Becoming equipped as a missionary is the ultimate aim of your church attracting visitors. You only fulfil the Great Commission as a church board when you are intentionally nurturing missionaries. Equipping missionaries is perhaps the greatest measurement of success in the local church.
The Discipling Journey List is the official church database of all contacts and members that is maintained by the Interest Coordinator. In this database people are listed according to where they are in the Discipling Journey. This enables the Church board to evaluate and plan programmes that are intentionally created to move individuals along the Discipling Journey to the ultimate goal where they become missionaries, thereby joining Jesus in His work when He said, “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people” (Matthew 4:19, NIV).
As the ultimate goal is to nurture missionaries, and being baptised does not mean someone is active in missions, the category of Member is subdivided into three, a) non-attending, b) inactive, c) active internally. This list is confidential, both because it contains contact details, but also because it categorises people in a way that may be considered subjective.
The Interest Coordinator would report with a current Discipling Journey List to each board meeting in order to provide insight to the next step in planning initiatives.
While your board is working to develop missionaries, it is not simply about what people are doing externally in missionary activities. The most important changes in your church are what the Father is doing within human beings so they may “be conformed to the image of his Son” (Roman 8:29)—because this determines the extent of your missionary influence as God reveals Himself through His people.
This model of transformation explains how people can be restored in the image of Christ as they learn to deepen their communion with Him. It is important for departmental leaders and teachers to understand because it shows you how to shape all your initiatives to foster spiritual transformation, rather than just being busy.
Follow this link to see how to plan your board initiatives around the stages of transformation.
The discipling initiatives you plan on your board will be shaped by the information you have gathered from the previous 3 steps.