I recently read an article by Thom Rainer entitled 6 Characteristics of Disciple-Making Churches on Outreach Magazine In the article, Dr. Rainer listed six common expectations of churches who are effective in making disciples. In these churches, members are expected to…
- attend an entry point class,
- attend an open group Bible study,
- be involved in one or more deeper studies throughout the year,
- attend corporate worship service each week,
- be involved in at least one ministry or mission activity each year,
- read and study the Bible daily.
Making disciples is not optional. Jesus commanded it (Matthew 28:19-20). How, then, could we begin to lead in the direction toward these expectations? What could we do to encourage and support these expectations? There are many possibilities, but allow me to offer two examples:
SUNDAY SCHOOL or SMALL GROUPS. What if adult and youth Sunday School group leaders were the champions for these expectations? What if groups organized themselves to encourage disciple-making by leading group members in pursuit of these expectations?
- For instance, what if new class members were encouraged to attend a new member class with another class member?
- What if the age-appropriate class welcomed and invited the new church member at the end of the service in which he/she joined?
- What if the class talked together about discipleship studies needed by class members and encouraged attending together?
- What if classes sat together in worship?
- What if every adult and youth class had a class leader who encouraged serving in a church ministry? Or what if the class pursued, sponsorted, and carried out a church ministry or mission activity?
- What if class got into groups of two or three to encourage one another to read and study the Bible daily?
ASSIGNMENT TO AN EXISTING MINISTRY. Another possibility for supporting these expectations would be to assign each of these expectations to an existing church ministry. Rather than pulling people in even more directions by adding new ministries, why not strengthen your existing ministries by giving them disciple-making responsibilities? Think about which ministry could best champion each of the expectations. Consider the following:
- new member class: could be assimilation or discipleship ministry
- open group Bible study: could naturally be Sunday School or small groups ministry
- deeper Bible studies: could be men’s and women’s ministry, discipleship ministry, or other
- corporate worship service: could be worship team, Sunday School/small groups ministry, or other
- serving in ministry or missions: could be missions ministry, men’s/women’s ministry, Sunday School/small groups ministry, or mobilization or nomination team
- read and study the Bible: could be men’s/women’s ministry, Sunday School/small groups ministry, or other.
Church ministries should support disciple-makers’ efforts. Without support for these expectations, most will never produce results or fruit. Someone must lead. Someone must expect. Someone must champion and encourage them and even check on progress. Where do you need to start in raising expectations and providing support for them this year? Make disciples!
For more ideas about making disciples, check out these blog posts: