4 Strategies for Better Discipleship
4. We think that we will grow without effort.
Many think that God saved them, and now they should just go to church and maybe stay away from the really big sins. They are unintentional in tending to their spiritual growth. Sadly we have not done much to change this.
Instead, we need to understand that Scripture teaches that each person is to not be a passive spectator, but rather to “work out your own salvation” (Phil. 2:12). Discipleship takes every believer’s intentional effort. Yes, effort. Believers must take steps to grow, and that is in line with grace.
Notice that this passage does not say “work on your own salvation” or “work toward” it. You cannot. It is by grace and through faith. However, as a believer, you do take effort to grow—but that does not earn you a relationship with God. It just puts you in the right place where God can grow you as a believer, saved by grace. As Dallas Willard has explained, “Grace is not opposed to effort; it is opposed to earning.”
5. We don’t offer practical steps.
Changing a church’s consumer culture requires an intentional discipleship plan and strategy. We are often intentional about our preaching schedule; why, then, are we not intentional about a discipleship strategy?
Instead, be unapologetic that you want to encourage people to get (1) grounded in their faith, (2) consistent in the Word, and (3) in a small group with others, whether that looks like a weekly Bible study group, a missional community, a Sunday school class or something else altogether. Give people steps and people with whom they can take those steps.
Assuming your discipleship plan is biblically grounded, the specifics of your plan are not nearly as important as implementing one and communicating it well. Heralding a strategy as the way to become a disciple would be arrogant, but each church should explain its discipleship strategy as “our church’s way of discipleship.”
Identifying the challenges of genuine discipleship and committing to a process that works through them are the first and necessary steps to cultivating a church filled with on-mission disciples.