DiscipleShift: Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples by Jim Putman, Bobby Harrington and Robert Coleman is an excellent resource for any church that is serious about fulfilling the great commission. The authors are experienced disciple makers and the comments by Robert Coleman are tremendous bonus.
SHIFT 1 FROM REACHING TO MAKING This involves defining a disciple and understanding what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. We must start where people are if we want to take them where they need to be. This involves understanding the four spheres in which people need to grow.
SHIFT 2 FROM INFORMING TO EQUIPPING The role of the leaders is to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. Rather than teaching people about Jesus, we need to equip them with the character and skills of a disciple.
SHIFT 3 FROM PROGRAM TO PURPOSE A church must understand its biblical role and the emphasis must shift from simply having good programs to the purpose of making disciples.
SHIFT 4 FROM ACTIVITY TO RELATIONSHIP Rather than seeing ministry as being primarily about activities, we should see ministry as being primarliy about relationships.The church must provide structure for relationships and understand the significance of small groups
SHIFT 5 FROM ACCUMULATING TO DEPLOYING This involves developing a new scorecard for success. (Kindle Locations 35-62).
The authors base their definition of a disciple on Matthew 4:19,
He [Jesus] said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Based upon that verse they view a disciple as a person who: “1. is following Christ (head); 2. is being changed by Christ (heart); 3. is committed to the mission of Christ (hands).” (Kindle Locations 710-713).
The authors focus not only on the teaching of Jesus but also His methodology. ”Instead of beginning with behavior, leaders remind people of who they are in Christ. They connect the commands of God to the identity he secures for his followers, presenting obedience as the overflow of understanding and living the new nature Christ has given.” (Kindle Locations 869-871).
This diagram outlines how a disciple grows in four main spheres of life: “1. In his relationship to God 2. In his relationship with God’s family, the church 3. In his home life 4. In his relationship to the world This means that in each sphere, a disciple understands God’s commands and submits to his authority (head), is transformed by Jesus ( heart), and joins Jesus on a kingdom mission (hands) in all of these areas of their lives.” (Kindle Locations 1146-1152).
“This means shifting how we think about our job, our calling as a pastor or leader. It means that being an effective church leader involves: • Discovering what the right goal is: making disciples, not just converts • Correctly defining what a disciple is: someone who follows Jesus, is transformed by Jesus, and joins Jesus on his mission • Using the right methodology: intentional, biblical, relational environments • Producing the intended results: disciples who are spiritually and relationally healthy and are continually making more disciples.” (Kindle Locations 1751-1758).
If our methodology is based on the method Jesus used to make disciples, we can find answers by asking ourselves three questions:
1. What did Jesus do?
2. How do I replicate his method in my own life as a church leader?
3. What do I teach others to do?
We must realize that methods must change as we exegete the culture. (Kindle Locations 2260-2264).
The authors assert that for a ministry to be aligned around the common mission of making disciples, it must include the following five key components:
1. A clear goal of discipleship. A ministry should exist to help people follow Jesus, be transformed by him, and join him on his mission. Before you allow someone to start or join a ministry, he should understand this basic goal and define it as you do. He also needs to be willing to live it out, or you will have real issues before long.
2. An intentional leader who makes disciples. A ministry should have an intentional disciple-making leader. The leader should be committed to the disciple-making process and intentional about leading people involved in the ministry to greater spiritual maturity.
3. A biblically relational environment. As we’ve said before, the key factors that cause spiritual growth are the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the people of God. So each ministry of your church should incorporate each of these key factors. Good teachers will facilitate discussion in which people are free to express themselves. They use the Word but involve everyone in a variety of ways. Good teaching doesn’t just inform the head ; it also seeks to affect a person’s heart and hands. Spiritual maturity and transformation is the goal. Ministries shouldn’t just be focused on filling heads with biblical facts. They should show how biblical truth relates to the real needs in people’s lives.
4. A reproducible process. Those who are involved in the ministry should be growing spiritually in such a way that they are producing more disciples. It might be helpful to walk people through the four-stage process that Jesus modeled for his disciples (SCMD – Share, Connect, Minister, Disciple). You may want to teach people the five stages of spiritual growth so they can help those they work with grow to spiritual parenthood.
5. A supporting organization. The church as a whole must undergird and communicate the vision that God has given it. This support and communication must happen over and over again. There must be a system that includes job descriptions, and there must be accountability that ensures that what is valued is achieved. Ministry leaders need to constantly be encouraged and coached. The leaders of a church are the ones who protect the church from competing views and ensure that each of their ministries is focused on making disciples. Victories are celebrated in front of the whole church. When you have all five of these key components in place, that ministry is aligned with the disciple-making process. (Kindle Locations 2633-2647).
In summary, the authors assert that church must have the following five components if it is to be effective in making disciples: “1. a clear goal, 2. an intentional leader, 3. a biblically relational environment, 4. a reproducible process, and 5. a supporting organization.” (Kindle Locations 2713-2714). How does your church compare with those five components?
Associate Pastor – Discipleship. The Church at LifePark
Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University
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