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Our Discipleship Pathway Isn't A Checklist

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discipleship process checklist

My 2020 started off with a bang, reading Daniel Im's No Silver Bullets. Daniel's Five Small Shifts That Will Transform Your Ministry hit home for me in a big way. To me, the book had immediate applications for discipling in the Church Online realm, as well as, in the physical church.

No one in the church says they want to make consumers. We want people who live the Christian life. We want to be a church of Christians... a church of "little Christs." We want Disciples, followers of "the Way". For me, Matthew 28's challenge to go and make disciples echoes painfully in my ears as I look at our church and realize that while we want disciples, we're inadvertently creating consumers. Lifeway research tells us that 61% of Christians do not talk about spiritual matters with other Christians as a normal part of daily conversation, while 55% percent of Christians have not shared with someone how to become a Christian in the past six months. Even our one hour on Sunday is decreasing in attendance, as representative by many of our church's dwindling attendance during the 2019 Christmas weekend.

no silver bullets by Daniel ImYou can create a stronger movement with twelve disciples than 1,200 consumers...  Alan Hirsch's words haunt me. What if we, the church, believed this, and lived our ministry life as such? Could twelve disciple-makers, on mission, really start a movement? If so, then what are we waiting for? Why are we, the Church, stuck in this world where we are celebrating the weekly consumption of that one hour on Sunday instead of looking at how we can help someone understand their personal mission/ministry.

Debatably (not today) the North American Model of Church is losing its impact. Maybe it's time that we start to explore what the next model of Church would be. For the Church to stay influential in 2020, we need to understand how to create/grow/train/empower disciple-makers. Check out the quote from Daniel Im's No Silver Bullets.

Most discipleship pathways are typically organized around what the church can do for individuals. This is because churches typically see their discipleship pathway as the ways disciples are formed through the ministries of their church: weekend services, classes, events, groups, and serve opportunities. And while I do not disagree that the church needs to offer environments and opportunities for individuals to get plugged in and grow, I’ve come to discover that the goal for a discipleship pathway is never to get someone through it; the goal is to get individuals to own it.

As long as the church owns the pathway, the only possible response for an individual is consumption, which is really the same thing as that faux-pas word in discipleship circles—consumerism. This is like the difference between renting and owning, or being an hourly worker versus a shareholder. When something is ours, a shift happens inside of us, and we tend to approach it in a fundamentally different way.

Im, Daniel . No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry. 

Church, here's our reality.

  • The Church in 2020 cannot be about a product being made for consumption.
  • The Church in 2020 cannot be about an environment meant to complete an item on a checklist.
  • The Church in 2020 must be about people, and God's desire to give them purpose through disciple-making.

What if our church wasn't defined by a single man (or woman) on-stage preaching the word? What if, instead, the church was defined by its ability to disciple and evangelize, empowering the Gospel on people, training them to share. What if the movement of your church wasn't defined by the butts in seats of the one hour on Sunday, but God used those butts (not in seats) during the other 167 hours during the week?

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About Author

Jeff Reed
Jeff Reed

With about 20 years experience serving the church in the digital/technological realm, Jeff loves working with churches. As passionate about Discipleship as he is Technology, Jeff uses his passion to help Churches develop technology systems to bring people far from God closer to him. Oh, and he loves Digital Church & Church Online.

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