I’ve heard it said a few times – that in bigger Churches one of the things that you find is that the Pastor teaches and disciples the new believers.
Some might say that it’s the most important job in the Church. Although some might say that training leaders is the most important job in the Church. All the guys who have been walking faithfully for a while, but that aren’t leaders, then turn round and say: “what about us?”
Essentially we have to have a rhythm of discipleship.
In 2015 I wrote a ten-part discipleship course for new believers and took the majority of our Church through it. We also did the course with our Youth Church too. I think to date we’ve done this course with around a hundred people now. However many people have gone through the course one thing that I have noticed is that by the time a group has gone through this ten weeks with Pastor they tend to become more committed to Church and getting involved in serving.
If you want to consolidate what you have it means taking the Church on a journey together. One of our best consolidation tools in respect of discipleship and journeying together over the past few years has been Urban Wave – our holiday conference held in Mablethorpe. The whole Church goes away and meets with God together and struggles with community together, and laughs together. It’s a quality tool for getting the Church to commit to unity with one another.
Another great tool for consolidating and bringing people into closer relationships with each other is small groups. We call ours Life Groups, and they consist of 70% ish of social time and 30% ish of learning to go deeper together. Over the years we’ve found that Life Groups have helped people to become more committed better than most of the options we have.
We also run a daily Bible study that we call our daily devotions. Around ten people each day meet together to study the Bible. As time has gone by some of the guys that have been part of learning have now started to lead Bible studies and even Life Groups.
I was watching TD Jakes talk about leadership once and he spoke about a picture that I’m sure you can imagine. If each member of the Church is like a brick in a brick building, some may be built higher than others in faith. You may have two people that are like corners to your building who have been around a long time and are quite mature in their faith. These guys might look like a stack of bricks six high.
Others in the Church are just starting their journey and are totally unchurched. They would be starting from scratch on their journey and so would look like part of a wall that is just one brick high.
Those closer to the corners are obviously going to be further along on their walk, and will learn Christian lifestyle etiquette quicker than the people further away from the growth.
Essentially what is being said is that for people to grow, they need to be closer to those that have been going on the journey longer. A new believer in a Life Group full of new believers isn’t going to learn anything, and they certainly won’t be challenged.
In my experience these groups are hubs of sayings like: “Do what makes you feel happy!” and “No-one’s perfect, so why bother trying to be?!”
If you’re not creating a culture on purpose you’ll do it by accident, so it’s important that you disciple well on purpose and encourage growth. The man or woman who hangs around with a committed Christian for six months will become a committed Christian. The one that chills around wishy-washy non-committal guys will become so.
Be strategic in who you put with who, and who you elevate. You need wisdom and maturity to hang around with fresh passion. It’s a cocktail of successful discipleship.