American churches are in crisis.
Nearly four thousand churches close every year in North America. Ed Stetzer estimates that 70% to 80% of all evangelical churches in the US have either stopped growing or are in decline! We are in a crisis of discipleship.
I believe with all my heart; a return to biblical disciple making will reenact the 21st century reformation. If disciple making is our focus then it ought to be one of our highest priories in every leadership pipeline of the church.
By empowering the people of God of any color, any race, any background, any creed, any socio-economic status, with the Spirit of God by be wielding the Word of God for the ministry of God and for the glory of God will change the world.
Here are five practical reason ways to cultivate a culture of discipleship.
The only thing Jesus has authorized to do is to, “make disciples”.
Discipleship is not an optional accessory to our life. Scripture commands us to make disciples, it is not an option to be considered. It is the heartbeat of the gospel and all of life that we are called to be and do.
The members of a local church should cultivate a culture of discipleship because they want to care for the next generation.
In a sense, if we go with the old model we’re subconsciously saying, “We want to pack the pews Sunday with as many people in the door. We are glad you’re here, but we’re not really interested in having you here because we are interested in your friend back there.” What happens as a result is for the people are not cared so they leave the back door as fast as people come in the front door.
In a culture of discipleship, with unity as the launching pad in mind-set as a starting point; both relationships and spiritual formation collide inside and outside the church context. Relational community through the relational environment are found in this discipleship context.
As believers’ wrestle, together in the local church context through various trials, temptation, tribulation, suffering, persecution of the faith will ever draw each another closer to Christ and to one another and strengthens the bond of faith and unity.
How many of your churches have a discipleship plan? How many of your churches have an intentional leadership development plan?
Discipleship is intentionally equipping leaders through accountable relationship empowered by the Spirit of God with the help of current godly leadership that models the congregation. The fruit of their ministry becomes evident within passing on to the younger leaders.
The ultimate goal of discipleship does not only end with training leaders, but leads to multiplying faithful followers of Christ.
A culture of discipleship multiplies the gifts and ministry of the whole church body, not just the pastor or a few select leaders. By this method, we will witness a cycle of reproduction to the ends of the earth and unto the end of time.
People are naturally looking for the silver bullet. One program, one system, one special book or a process that will move people immediately down the road closer to maturity in Christ.
Discipleship is the silver bullet. Matthew 28:19-20 is the only plan that was given. There’s no other method.
Jesus envisioned that the victory would be won through witnessing and he depended on the faithfulness of his chosen disciples to this task. That was his only plan. His concern was not with programs to reach the multitudes, but men were to be His method of winning the world. Jesus’ method was very simple. Programs, ceremonies and organizations are well intended but are unless. God is seeking men and women who are filled with God’s passion for the lost.
So why don’t we do this simple task? For mass recruitment was the easier strategy. Many pastors think their greatest impact will come from preaching to many. Not true. Our greatest impact is in discipling a few. Jesus method just has simply been ignored.
We are not speaking of becoming kinder and nicer and those values matter. What we are speaking of is, “world revolution”. The goal is world conquest. We have not been called to hold the fort, but to storm the heights.
“If you read the Great Commission, you may not realize it is about world revolution. If you think it is about planting churches, as important as that may be, if you think it is about evangelization, as that is often understood – no, no. It is about a world revolution promised through Abraham, come to life in Jesus and living on in his people up to today. That is what our hearts hunger for. Even when we don’t know how to approach it or how to go about it. – Dallas Willard (Living in Christ’s Presence)
 Robert E. Coleman and Billy Graham, The Master Plan of Evangelism, 2 edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2010).
 Bill Hull and Scot McKnight, Conversion and Discipleship: You Can’t Have One without the Other (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2016).
 Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God, 1 edition (San Francisco: Harper, 1998).