In this month’s edition of the Church Revitalizer blog, I want to pose this question “How Do You Gauge If Your Church Members are Getting Stronger Spiritually?” As we discuss the importance of disciple making and disciple making groups, it is vital that we measure what really matters. There is a raising gap between what Americans say they believe and what they do. Within the local church the same can be said of believers. Our beliefs do not always transform into actions. Spiritual maturity is often seen in four areas: ones beliefs, ones practices, ones attitudes, and ones lifestyle. These small indicators tell whether an individual has a growing integrated faith, which is transforming each day into closeness with Jesus Christ. Anything less is merely a statement of faith, but not action. As a believer goes deeper from mere belief to consistent lifestyle, the more obvious these four areas will be in ones life. There are many things that churches can do, but I believe that discipling people are the greatest investment a church can undertake. Although missions, evangelism, prayer etc. are all elements within a disciple’s life, they are all used in discipling a person in the way of Jesus.
Eric Geiger, co-author of the book Transformational Groups: Creating a New Scorecard for Groups, declares:
Groups are absolutely essential to the health and mission of a church. They are likely the starting point for community, discipleship, and service in your church. In fact, recent research shows that people involved in groups are healthier spiritually than those who aren’t. People in groups read the Bible more, pray more, give more, and serve more. Simply stated: your groups matter.
Ed Stetzer, the other author of Transformational Groups: Creating a New Scorecard for Groups, asserts:
Our research shows that people in a group read the Bible and pray more regularly, confess sins more frequently, share the Gospel more freely, give more generously, and serve more often than those not in a group.
Pastors, we are the most essential and influential person to launching and continually starting small groups and keeping the small group ministry alive in our churches. What I have learned is this: The bar I set is the bar my church members will shoot for. Therefore I must set the bar high when it comes to the making of disciples and small groups. We need to create an attitude of multiplication within our churches and a group is a great way to expand ones ministry. As a pastor, I have understood that if I desired to make disciples, I not only needed to preach about disciple making, but I was also responsible for moving church members from point A to point B to point C and keep them maturing as committed disciples. Have you considered that one new disciple-making group begun in your church will connect ten new people with the church? The concept of the disciple in the New Testament is simple. I am someone’s disciple if I am with him learning to be like him and his reflection for Jesus. There is the idea of an apprentice that is seen from Jesus as He walked with his disciples. When a church preaches or demonstrates that someone can become a church member without even considering the need for becoming a growing disciple it undervalues the ultimate goal of a growing believer. Our preaching must stress that to be a growing believer one must strive to grow as a disciple. Being a disciple and making of disciples is for everyone. We are all to become and continue to be disciple makers. Each and every one of us has as true believers an unusual power to make an incredible difference in somebody’s life by being their discipleship coach. The work of disciple making is a function of the church as community relating to one another in ways to pursue grow which flames bright and testifies to the world of Jesus. Discipleship is not something one can talk about, but getting people to take steps forward is another level of commitment. Transformation is the greater goal. Coaching them through the process. Bruce Raley, from LifeWay Christian Resource’s states, “discipleships is best accomplished in a context of relationship, and relationship occurs in smaller groups.” Bill Hull in his work, The Disciple Making Pastor, declares:
Christ commanded the church to make disciples, to produce people who love and obey God, bear fruit, and live with joy. The crisis at the heart of the church is that we often pay lip service to making disciples, but we seldom put much effort behind doing it. For the pastor who is ready to put words into action, The Disciple Making Pastor offers the inspiration and practical know how to do so.
Bill Hull shows pastors the obstacles they will face, what disciples really look like, the pastor's role in producing them, and the practices that lead to positive change. He also offers a six step coaching process to help new disciples grow in commitment and obedience and practical ideas to integrate disciple making into the fabric of the church.
Let’s think about that and begin doing something about it! If you would like to have conversations related to this blog post, why not drop me a line so we can begin your journey and conversation.
You can connect with Dr. Tom Cheyney and the RENOVATE Church Revitalization Coaching Network additionally via Facebook at RENOVATE Conference. Tom is the co-author of Spin-Off Churches (B&H Publishers), a conference speaker and a frequent writer on church planting, new church health, and church revitalization. Tom’s latest book is going to press entitled Ninety Church Revitalization Lessons Learned the Hard Way: A Primer Before You Jump Into Church Renewal. Also, be looking for The Biblical Foundations for Church Revitalization by Tom Cheyney and Terry Rials later this year. If you or your church would like more information about how to be considered for the next series of RENOVATE Church Revitalization Applicants you may contact him at Tom@renovateconference.org, or firstname.lastname@example.org.