By Anthony Svajda
I can remember when I was called to my church. The first day I was asked, “What do think you’re going to change first?”
At that time, I didn’t have an answer as to what needed to be changed. But I did know what we would be adding: a clear plan of discipleship. A clear plan of discipleship is needed in all churches but especially crucial in the process of church growth.
Here are three reasons why:
Discipleship Plays a Biblical Role in Church Revitalization
The Great Commission calls all Christians to make disciples. Many Christians know Matthew 28:18-20 well. We have heard the passage preached, many have committed it to memory, and we teach it to our children. So why do churches continue to forget their calling?
A church that does not make disciples has lost its identity.
Discipleship is what has defined the church. Jesus modeled discipleship as he walked with his disciples and taught them about the Kingdom of God. Acts 11:21-26 describes Paul and Barnabas following Jesus’ example by making disciples in the early church. The church is defined by this Great Commission to make disciples; making disciples is our identity.
Discipleship Plays a Vital Role in Revitalization
In this consumer culture, it is understandable how the church can be caught up emphasizing programs their culture desires. If a church is a traditional Christian context, they may focus on remaining traditional in their worship style. If the church is in an area with young families, they may focus their energy on making the children’s ministry fun and exciting.
While it is perfectly okay to contextualize ministry for the culture, a church must be diligent in keeping discipleship the focus of the ministries. After all, what happens if a church loses its vision to make disciples?
A church that does not make disciples has missed the reason for which they exist.
The truth is, the business of the church is to make disciples. While some churches may be great at implementing many different programs for consumers, if they are not making disciples, they are missing their purpose.
Discipleship Plays a Valuable Role in Revitalization
I don’t believe that anyone would argue that churches going through revitalization are in need of some new growth. The great news about discipleship is this; discipleship helps churches grow.
A church that is evangelizing the lost, teaching their congregants the Scripture, and challenging them to share the gospel with lost friends and family is a church that will inevitably experience growth of some kind. Now if we all know this, why would a church not practice discipleship?
A church that does not practice discipleship has forgotten the faithfulness of their God.
One thing I know for sure is, God is faithful. Every time I have put my trust in the Lord by doing what He has told me, He comes through. I believe that this is the same for His church. When we are faithful in making disciples, He will be faithful to bring the growth.
The simple truth is, no church makes disciples by accident.
My hope and prayer in writing this article is to cause Christians and church leaders to ask a few questions of themselves and their churches:
- Am I faithful in making disciples?
- If I were to disciple someone, would I know what to do?
- Who is available for me to disciple?
- Is my church faithful in making disciples?
- Does my church have a clear path of discipleship?
- Who in my church needs to be discipled?
While we can ask and answer many more questions, I hope you will begin thinking about your own disciple-making and your churches’ discipleship process.
The Great Commission gives Christians a great responsibility to make disciples, and we have great power through the Holy Spirit to accomplish this mission. May our churches be known by how we make disciples for the cause of Christ.
Anthony Svajda is serving as the senior pastor of Harvey Baptist Church in Stephenville, TX. He has a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Evangelism and Church Revitalization from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
For more posts regarding Church Revitalization check out these posts at AnthonySvajda.com: