The Biggest Temptation of Moving from Traditional Ministry to Discipleship

Sermons don’t make disciples. Worship won’t make disciples. Bible class won’t get the job done either. It won’t get done by the preacher or the elders either. While it might be closer to getting it done, traditional small group ministry, probably won’t be the right spot for disciple making either.

We can no longer rely on out “go to” approaches if we are going to make disciples.

We are Sunday-driven. Evangelism seems to take place in the sermon with the invitation. One might just think that is where disciples are made and the preacher is the only one trusted and skilled enough to deliver the message.

We have to think outside Sunday.

We have to think in terms of mobilizing our people and leveraging their gifts all toward a common purpose – making disciples.

This will not be a Sunday morning enterprise.

This will not be a new ministry.

Here is a big one – We have to think beyond “get them to the building.” You never find this in the Bible, ever. But it is our “go to” and it is all we know. The building on Sunday has been billed as the one stop shop for all spiritual services. It just doesn’t work! (85% of churches that are building/program-centric are in decline). It was never how God intended this to work.

I hear more and more of you say that we have to get serious about discipleship and my fear is that what we are really saying is we are going to hold on to our previous approaches with some adjustments. This is the biggest temptation in making this change – That we hold on to all the forms we had in the past but just make the topic of discussion discipleship-related.

I am afraid that won’t work.

We have to move our thoughts past programs and programized ministry.

We have to move past budget line items.

We also have to move beyond existing ministries and ministry paradigms. This won’t happen in the church building by paid staff or volunteer leaders alone – it will happen with you doing it in your home, in a coffee shop, etc.

This all points to us, as individual Christians, deciding we are going to take the call to make disciples seriously. It won’t be a new Bible class, another sermon series, or a new approach to existing small groups. It won’t be the old ways with a new focus. It will be an entirely new approach to ministry.

It will be you inviting some other people to walk closer to Jesus with you. That’s it. The Bible class teacher won’t do it for you. You can’t just bring people to others to do it for you. You have to dive in and take responsibility for the call you received from Christ to make disciples.

We are going to get more specific on the “how to” in the coming weeks and months but for now I want to motivate you to pray about who you can invite to meet on a weekly basis to study and pray together…an invite them.

I also encourage your ministry leaders to look at all existing ministries and examine their purpose and see how many of them naturally align with making more mature disciples. Groups serious on discipleship will toss out peripheral ministries. They will end them because they don’t advance the purpose and direction of making disciples. This will be hard but it is necessary.

The only person stopping us from taking this seriously is ourselves.

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