Discipleship Checklist for Churches

Discipleship for churches is a bit like healthy eating for people: we all know we need to but we don’t necessarily have a plan in place and even if we do it’s something we are going to start ‘next week’.

Some churches may have a well-oiled plan in place to help turn new believers into mature believers who in turn disciple others, but in my experience most churches have a somewhat piecemeal approach.

Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Perhaps it’s a sign that some churches don’t necessarily expect a constant stream of new believers, or a dislike of having systems in place in a people-oriented context.

Onboarding
One of my daughters began working for a retail fashion chain, and I couldn’t help but notice that they have a ‘discipleship’ program. Each night I would find my daughter hunched over her laptop completing ‘onboarding’ modules that all new staff were required to do. These modules helped them understand the culture and operations of the business, what her basic tasks were and how to develop good customer skills, including sales.

A few months later I would still find her on her laptop after hours. She had progressed to the next level of modules designed for staff who wanted to move from casual to permanent. These modules dug deeper into the operations of the fashion chain and helped them understand the stock ordering process and more detailed operations only entrusted to permanent staff.  A few months after that I still found her on her laptop. She had now progressed to modules designed for staff members who aspired to managerial positions in the business, starting with assistant roles and eventually the modules dealt with full managerial roles.

Higher Purpose – Equal Effort?
The business had developed a detailed ‘discipleship’ program, designed to take a rank beginner on the journey to management, and to teach them everything they needed to know along the way. In the end analysis the whole point of this retail business is to generate profits from selling retail fashion. The church has a much higher purpose in mind, yet many don’t necessarily take the challenge of discipleship as seriously as entities that exist for lesser purposes. A successful business employs many people and in doing so plays an important role in our world, but in terms of purpose, nothing trumps the Gospel. So why isn’t the church as organised and determined to ensure that new and existing believers have a pathway of development?

Discipleship Checklist

1.       Are you ready for the next person who becomes a believer and needs to be ‘onboarded’ into the faith, and begin the process of maturing in their faith?

2.       What does that process look like?

3.       What resources do you have ready to begin the journey?

Suggestion:
Check out Crossway’s discipleship resource which is now being rolled out (with coaching support) across Australia at www.bdc.org.au

The benefit of the framework available through BDC is that is combines evangelism with discipleship. The discipleship process draws existing Christians into a lifestyle of evangelism rather than the process only involving new believers in the life of the church.

4.       In addition to any discipleship resources, do you have any books ready to hand out that a new believer will find helpful?

Suggestions:
New Believer’s Guide to Effective Christian Living (New Believers Guides) by Greg Laurie.
Spending Time With God by Danny Hodges
Basic Christianity (IVP Classics) by John Stott
The Cross of Christ by John Stott
First Steps For New Christians by Paul Lancaster
The New Believer’s Guide to the Christian Life: What Will Change, What Won’t, and Why It Matters by Alex Early

5.       Who are the people who are trained and prepared that will help on the journey?

We’d love to hear what you are doing in your church with discipleship and what resources you have found helpful.

You can contact us via [email protected] with your stories and ideas!