Discipleship

Discipleship at Home

The family is the most basic building block of society, and as goes the family, so goes society. Scripture teaches that the relationships that parents are to have with their children are precious and God-given.  Fathers and mothers have been given the high calling to lead their children to faith in Christ and disciple them in that faith. Nothing is more crucial and desperately needed in our generation than for Christian parents to teach their children to be worshipers of God.  Given the climate of our day, this can be a difficult thing to do.

Our children are facing a barrage of cultural pressures that we could not have even imagined when we were children. More than likely, you grew up in a society that was respectful or at least neutral toward biblical Christianity. Our children are growing up in a culture that is now anti-Christian and becoming more so by the day.  What we need now more than ever are Christian parents who are committed to following Jesus Christ in discipleship and who intentionally teach their children to follow Him as well.

How do we embrace discipleship at home?

First, it begins with mom and dad’s own walk with Christ.  They must first be disciples themselves before they can effectively lead their children to be disciples.  Their commitment to Christ must result in obedience to Christ, a love for His Word, a passion for prayer, and a sense of mission.  Though these parents are not perfect, their lives are surrendered to the Lordship of Christ and they are confident in His grace.

Next, mom and dad will seek to lead their children to faith in Christ and will nurture them in that faith.  This means that there are some clear priorotites that are established in the home, such as a commitment to a local church, a commitment to praying together, and a commitment to Scripture.  Parents who still have children at home ought to make consistent family worship a priority as frequently as they can.  For example, my wife and I carve out at least 15 to 20 miniutes each night before our children go to bed for singing, Bible reading, and prayer.  This has been underemphasized in the church today, and the impact has been felt as many Christian families are living compartmentalized lives that has reduced worship to something that only happens on Sunday. Even then, when worship is not a priority at home, a commitment to a local church will often be weak and sporadic.

Make discipleship the number one prority in your home.  If you have never led your children in worship, start with a simple prayer and Bible story before bedtime or at breakfast.  Find out what works for you in your own context.  I promise you that your children will reap spiritual dividends.  This upcoming Sunday, I am looking forward to continuing our study in Deuteronomy 6, and I want to give you some practical pointers for how to make discipleship the top priority of your homelife.

Establish a Disciple-Making Culture in Your Church

It is important for pastors to create the culture of discipleship in the church that they pastor.  What the pastor celebrates, the people he shepherds will also celebrate and embrace.  The pastor must lead the way in making disciples and modeling before his congregation’s eyes what it looks like.  The following article was written by Godwin Sathianathan and posted on the Gospel Coalition’s website back in February of 2013.  This helpful article deals with how pastors create a disciple-making culture in the church:

“Make disciples” implies intentionality and process. Disciple-making doesn’t just happen because a church exists and people show up. It is a deliberate process. Considering the modifying participles of “going . . . baptizing . . . teaching” help us recognize this process. It must include evangelizing (going to new people and new places), establishing (baptizing new believers and teaching obedience), and equipping (teaching believers to also make disciples). How does your church evangelize, establish, and equip?…

If these three contours are essential ingredients for a discipleship culture, how do pastors lead their churches in growing that culture? Here are seven ways:

1. Preach disciple-making sermons.

Pastors are not called to preach convert-making sermons or scholar-making sermons. They are called to preach disciple-making sermons. This means that they must craft sermons that will evangelize, establish, and equip. This means that they are teachers, pleaders, and coaches from behind the pulpit. Sermons also disciple through modeling careful exegesis, keen application, and prayerful responses to the passage. After we preach, congregants should understand and feel the text at such a level that they long to be more obedient disciples.

2. Shape disciple-making worship services.

Every church has a liturgy, whether you call it that or not, and every liturgy leads the people somewhere or disciples the people toward something. The question is where. The non-sermon elements of a worship service—songs, prayers, scripture reading, testimonies, and tone—contribute to the formative discipling of your congregation. Does your worship service lead people in thanksgiving for God’s gifts and goodness? Does it disciple people in confession and repentance? Is there an element in your worship service that offers assurance of salvation? Does your service lead people in celebrating our future hope? Thinking through these components with your worship director will strengthen your disciple-making services.

3. Invest in a few disciple-makers.

We’ve heard it before, but let me say it again: Jesus and Paul ask their disciples to invest in a few who will in turn invest in others (Matt. 28:18-19; 2 Tim 2:2). Pastors, choose a few men you can pour your life into and intentionally disciple for a period of time. Create a simple but effective format to accomplish this task. For example, meet with a few men twice a month to discuss sections of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, confess sin, and pray for one another. Keep it relational. At the end of your time together, ask each man to choose a few men with whom he can do the same. The benefits are manifold. You are obeying Jesus’ disciple-making command, you are cultivating a disciple-making culture through strategic multiplication, and you are investing in those who may become your future elders.

4. Make small group Bible studies central to your disciple-making strategy.

Many churches offer small groups like a side item at the buffet, but few offer it as a main course. While Sunday school and other teaching venues certainly disciple people, small group Bible studies are unique in that they achieve multiple discipleship goals. After your corporate worship gathering, consider making small groups ministry your next priority. This means identifying and training mature leaders to shepherd and disciple their members. It also means providing a clear vision for your small groups ministry. For example, our church asks our groups to commit to three disciple-making values: Bible, community, and mission.

5. Raise the bar of church membership.

Unfortunately many Christians don’t realize that joining a church is a vital step of discipleship. When you join a church, you are not joining a social club; you are publicly declaring your faith in Jesus and joining yourself to a group of Christians in life and mission. In view of this, pastors should view membership as discipleship and accordingly bolster their membership process and expectations. Instead of making it easy to join your church, make the process more involved. Get your elders teaching multiple sessions on the gospel, central doctrines, the importance of church membership, and your church’s operating convictions (baptism, for example). Broach tough subjects such as divorce and past church history during membership interviews. Finally, ensure membership actually means something for members. What unique privileges, roles, and responsibilities do members have in your church? Are your members actually joined together in Word-centered people-to-people ministry, as they promised when they became members?

6. Confront sin and practice church discipline.

Like church membership, discipline is neglected by some churches. Much like encouragement and affirmation are key components of disciple-making, so too are exhortation, confrontation, and if necessary more elevated measures of corrective discipline. God uses all of the above to make disciples and protect disciples within local churches.

7. Read disciple-making books with your leadership.

Let me recommend four books for your disciple-making arsenal. The Trellis and the Vine by Tony Payne and Colin Marshall outlines a practical vision for disciple-making. One-to-One Bible Reading by David Helm will equip you with the motivation and tools to read the Bible regularly with others. Church Membership by Jonathan Leeman is the best lay-level book on the subject I’ve read and will help you understand how membership rightly practiced is discipleship. And The Shepherd Leader by Timothy Witmer calls elders to lead the way in disciple-making.

Growing a disciple-making culture at your church might sound daunting. It’s hard enough to make disciples within a small group Bible study, but a church with all its complexities, systems, and baggage? Yikes. Here’s a piece of advice: start small, keep it simple, and focus on areas where a little investment will go a long way. For example, you may want to invest in a few who will do the same with others. Start with your elders. Or perhaps you want to focus on ramping up your small groups ministry. Start by training your current and new leaders around key biblical values that encapsulate discipleship.

Whatever you decide to do, may you find tremendous energy and courage to make disciples from the bookends of the Great Commission: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me . . . and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

View the article at http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/how-to-grow-a-disciple-making-culture-in-your-church

LIFT 101: Rediscovering Biblical Discipleship

Do you have a plan for your spiritual growth in 2015? Jesus has called His followers to be disciples who make disciples. The average church member knows that he or she is to be on mission with Christ, yet has never been shown how to be a disciple who makes disciples. The goal of LIFT 101 is to help provide intentional training for disciples who will not keep the faith to themselves, but will find someone else to disciple. LIFT 101 is a time of focused and intentional instruction that will help serve the purpose of equipping the church and her leaders for the work of ministry.

The study will be held in the Fellowship Hall at Green Street Baptist Church beginning January 11, 2015 and ending on March 22, 2015. We will begin at 5:30pm each week with a time of worship and prayer for a specific unreached people group, followed up with approximately 30 minutes of instruction about a designated topic. For this semester’s study, I will be focusing on the need for the church to rediscover what New Testament discipleship looks like, as well as lay out a practical strategy for making disciples which I hope to lead our church to pursue in the days to come.

Lift101

Topic for 2015—Rediscovering Biblical Discipleship

I have developed this study in conjunction with the chronological Bible reading plan that I am encouraging our church to follow along with me in 2015. We will close each week with a time of discussion based on the small group questions at the end of each weekly Bible reading from the Chronological Reading Plan, as well as discussion questions relating to the nightly topic. This will prove to be a powerful tool to help you grow in your walk with Christ this upcoming year. These guides will be available for purchase for $10 and will be very helpful to you as you read though the Bible during the course of the year. I have included a teaching schedule below of the topics we will cover this semester:

Schedule:

January 11 – Discipleship Deficit: Where Have All the Disciples Gone?

January 18 – What is a Disciple?

January 25 – Stages of Spiritual Growth

February 8 – What is a D-Group?

February 15 – COMMUNICATE: The Disciple’s Prayer Life

February 22 – LEARN: Disciples Study the Bible

March 1 – OBEY: Disciples Are Obedient to Christ

March 15 – STORE: Disciples Memorize Scripture

March 22 – EVANGELIZE: Disciples Share the Gospel

March 29 – RENEW: Disciples Have a Daily Quiet Time

(*Note that we will not meet on February 1 or March 8)

My weekly notes and a study guide will be available here on my website each week for you to download and bring with you or use in your own personal study.

My prayer for you is that 2015 will be a great year of growth in Christ!

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