Beginning Your Discipleship Journey in a Weekend-Only Culture

Below is a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

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Every church should have a clear, simple process for making disciples. Does yours?

Almost every church engages in some form of discipleship. When a pastor uses the Bible in a sermon, or a leader opens the Scriptures to a small group, the church is providing the initial phases, but lasting discipleship must go far beyond that.

If a new Christian who attends weekend worship services only asked for help in becoming more like Christ, what would your answer be? Would everyone in leadership give the same answer? Do you share a clear, simple first step? Followed by a second step?

But this is important for more than just a “new” Christian. How are you intentionally and methodically helping other believers to deepen their walk with Christ? How can you impact a “weekend only” culture and begin to instill basic disciple-making practices into your church’s life?

Solution #1: Build your system around shared faith catalysts.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Deep and Wide, by Andy Stanley

Deep and Wide provides church leaders with an in-depth look into North Point Community Church and its strategy for creating churches unchurched people absolutely love to attend.

For the first time, Andy Stanley explains his strategy for preaching and programming to the “dual audience” of mature believers and cynical unbelievers. He argues that preaching to dual audiences doesn’t require communicators to “dumb down” the content. According to Stanley, it’s all in the approach.

You’ll be introduced to North Point’s spiritual formation model, “The Five Faith Catalysts,” as well as three essential ingredients for creating irresistible environments.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

When Andy Stanley and the team that launched North Point Community Church dealt with the question of spiritual formation or discipleship, they rejected a class-based, program-driven, curriculum based model. They didn’t believe that classes created mature believers, just smart believers. Instead, they developed a more holistic approach.

North Point’s mission statement is “to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.” The leadership team determined that faith is what grows in a growing relationship, and faith should be at the center of every healthy relationship. To achieve that, the team concluded that the best discipleship model would be one designed around “growing people’s faith.”

Over time, North Point developed five dynamics that repeatedly showed up in people’s faith stories. Their decision to create a ministry model around these five “catalysts” of faith was a defining moment for their church.

Your organization’s spiritual growth model is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently getting.

The quest for spiritual maturity is a lifelong endeavor, and your approach to spiritual formation must be flexible and dynamic enough to support you through every season of life.

Here are five faith catalysts, five things God uses to grow your faith.

Practical Teaching – practical teaching that moves people to action. We are constantly asking our preachers and teachers:

  • What do you want them to know?
  • What do you want them to do?
  • What can we do to create next steps?

Private Disciplines – personal spiritual disciplines introduce a sense of intimacy and accountability to our faith walks. Private spiritual disciplines tune our hearts to the heart of God and underscore personal accountability to our heavenly Father. The way you talk about the Bible on the weekend will determine their interest in the Bible during the week.

Personal Ministry – few things stretch and thus grow our faith like stepping into a ministry environment for which we feel unprepared. If we ever get to the place where we are willing to make what we have available to God, amazing things will happen. Ministry forces us to be constantly dependent on God, and thus our faith is strengthened.

Providential Relationships – occur when we hear from God through someone or when we see God in someone. While it’s beyond our ability to manufacture any type of relationship, what we can do is create environments that are conducive to the development of these types of relationships. We constantly look for ways to get people connected more quickly and keep them connected longer.

Pivotal Circumstances – it’s not an event itself that grows or erodes our faith; it is our interpretation of the event that determined which way we went. The conclusions we draw about God in the midst of our pivotal circumstances drive us toward or away from Him.

– Andy Stanley, Deep and Wide

A NEXT STEP

Andy Stanley is always the first to warn church leaders “not to do what we do.” But he also makes no apology in pushing church leaders to closely examine the practices at their own churches to determine their validity for accomplishing the purposes they are designed to accomplish.

How about your church? Have you defined characteristics and habits of a growing disciple? What strategy do you follow in moving individuals toward a set Christ-centered of faith catalysts?

At your next team meeting, list on a whiteboard or chart tablet the most important attitudes, actions, or evidences of a growing disciple in your church.

As you look at your list, how could you combine or group these into “marks of a disciple” and categorize them into the four to 6 most important at this time.? How can you make them clear using compelling and catalytic language?

Now begins the intensive and ongoing leadership task of aligning your programs and systems to achieve these outcomes.

The real beauty in clarifying, focusing, and strengthening the disciple-making process of your church is this: the people who are growing will, by nature, take other people along with them.

Growing people grow people. Consuming people consume programs.

Without stating and integrating a simpler, intentional disciple-making process, your church will remain stuck in a bottleneck of the status quo and “weekend only” follow-ship.

When you build your discipleship system around shared faith catalysts, your church can develop an effectiveness of growing disciples.

To learn more about beginning your discipleship journey, start a conversation with the Auxano team today.

Taken from SUMS Remix 11-1, published March 2015


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

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