Make disciples – Christ’s last and greatest command. Why is such a clear command so difficult for many churches to perform? Several obstacles limit churches from their greatest potential in disciple-making, but one of the greatest is the lack of understanding how to make a true Biblical disciple.
For churches that have made Biblical discipleship a priority, the marks are obvious. This post will focus on three clear signs of a disciple-making church. While there are dozens more, these three are evident in every church that is making healthy disciples of the Kingdom of God.
Proper Definition of Evangelism –
I have too often heard a church claim that they are strong in evangelism or strong in discipleship, but weak in the other. I wonder at what point in church history these two disciplines became mutually exclusive… Ed Stezter sees the two ministries as one in the same. In his book Comeback Churches, he says, “Comeback churches see evangelism as a journey, not a destination” (Stetzer, p.118)
The Greek word which evangelist/evangelism derives from is the word εὐαγγέλιον – meaning the Gospel. Contrary to popular evangelistic methods, the Good News of Jesus is not solely about punching your Get Out of Hell Free Card. Rather, the Good News teaches how to receive eternal life and start living it in Christ today – not just after this life is over. Evangelism is not merely about reaching the lost. It is the beginning of the discipleship process.
Intentional Emphasis on Relationships –
Healthy relationships within a church are imperative for effective disciple-making. Becoming a follower of Christ is not about finishing a curriculum or a program. It’s about working toward Spiritual Maturity through life on life interactions. While tools can assist disciple-makers in the process, they should rely on relationships more than materials.
Jesus made this characteristic of His disciples a huge priority. Everyone will know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another (John 13:35). Relationships should be of equal importance to His followers.
Effective Communication of the Role of the Holy Spirit –
Disciple-making apart from the power of the Holy Spirit is fraudulent. In The Biblical Principles of Discipleship, Coppedge states, “The fact that the Jesus took so much time the last evening with His disciples to talk about the Holy Spirit indicates that He is vitally concerned that every disciple both understand the work of the Spirit and experience His fullness just as the Twelve did” (Coppedge, p.120).
Disciple-making churches purposefully submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit. If we spent as much time surrendering to the Holy Spirit as we do debating His role, our churches would be exponentially increased with disciples for the kingdom. The work of the Spirit is crucial to the disciple-making church.
Andrew Hale currently serves as Associate Pastor of Education and Discipleship at Turning Point at Calvary in St. Augustine, FL. He is also enrolled at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in their Doctor of Ministry degree program. You can connect with Andrew on both Twitter and Facebook.