Developing a Culture of Discipleship

April 27, 2016 Blog

For several years, discipleship in most churches has been program driven. We have had well planned discipleship ministries, but they have not often produced discipleship multiplication.

Instead of creating a new program of discipleship, churches around the country are beginning to realize the vital importance of developing a culture of discipleship. A discipleship culture is one where every believer is being equipped and encouraged to make and multiply disciples as a way of life. In such a culture, common people of all ages begin to see themselves as lifestyle disciple-makers and have a simple process for living it out.

The church I am privileged to pastor is beginning to develop such a culture and the results are incredible. Through an organic, intentional, and simple process called D-Life, teenagers and adults are being equipped for a lifestyle of discipleship. People “who have never done anything like this before” are beginning to lead and multiply discipleship groups. Most of these “D-Groups” meet outside the walls of the church. Genuine discipleship is happening anytime and anywhere, lives are being transformed, and our church is impacting our city in new and significant ways. In a discipleship culture, awesome stories of what God is doing in various D-Groups begin to spread and stoke the fires of disciple-making fervor.

Recently, a church member named Leigh Anne was invited to join a ladies’ D-Group by her friend Peggi. At first, it was just Peggi and Leigh Anne meeting in Peggi’s home. But soon they began to see God adding to the group and He placed the right ladies in the group at the right time. Toward the end of the year and with Peggi’s encouragement, Leigh Anne felt led to multiply and start her own D-Group. She didn’t have a time, a place, or any people, but she believed that the Lord would provide. She wanted a location that was in the community, but not in the church.

She felt led to post on Facebook, on a “What’s Happening in the Community” page, asking for a place to host a ladies Bible study. After a few comments, a lady offered for her to hold it at her dance studio. Leigh Anne made contact with her and they decided on a day and time. At this point, she still didn’t have anyone lined up to attend, but believed that God is always faithful. At the first D-Group meeting, it was only Leigh Anne and the lady who contacted her. Leigh Ann was able to share the D-Life plan with her and she was fully on board.

The next week the meeting grew to four by adding two other ladies who worked at the dance studio. A couple of weeks later they added three more ladies including a student at an art studio that rents space from the dance studio. Now they had a fully developed D-Group with a great balance of young and seasoned believers as well as some who are churched and some unchurched. One even had to purchase a Bible to be able to participate.

In the beginning, it was common for some of the ladies to not want to fully engage. One didn’t want to read, lead, or pray. Leigh Anne told her that was cool, but secretly in her heart knew that would change. In just three short months of meeting with the D-Group, she was reading the passages and facilitating discussion for the Bible study.

An important part of discipleship is for D-Groups to do ministry together outside the walls of the church. For their first ministry project, Leigh Anne’s D-Group took up money to provide Easter baskets for children staying at the Ronald McDonald House–a house for families of sick children at a local hospital. Their next two ministry projects included collecting items for the Ryan Winslow Veteran’s Home and assisting handicapped and mentally disabled adults at the Independence Place. In each ministry project, they looked for opportunities to share their faith in Christ.

Leigh Anne’s friend, Peggi, has been faithful to visit and encourage her new D-Group while Peggi continues to lead her own group. Both have shared how amazing it is to see God lead and direct their groups and how He is continually working in the lives of these ladies.

This story is a great example of what happens in a discipleship culture, and there are many more stories just like this one. Random people in random places are coming together in a D-Group. Some are in church and some are not. Some may not even own a Bible. Some will be led to faith in Christ. Many will be discipled and, like Leigh Anne, will multiply and begin new D-Groups. Dance studios and art studios, cafe’s and coffee shops, are becoming cathedrals for discipleship. It is in the context of a discipleship culture that exponential kingdom growth will occur.

Join me in praying for a new Reformation in the church. Not one with new discipleship programs, but one that results in a contagious culture of genuine discipleship ushering in an unprecedented period of spiritual awakening and revival.