Moving from a program-driven to a people-development agenda is one of the “green edges” of the church. The task many leaders are attempting to embrace is to create discipleship processes and methods that can nurture life and bring help to people right where they live, work, play, and do life, all in the rhythm of their life. But creating such a process requires a delicate balance. Some tensions exist in large church discipleship that must be properly maintained. Perhaps they are best represented by the following ‘ANDs’:
Immeasurable AND Measurable. Most churches are still measuring participation, even though they would openly admit it doesn’t work. Many would agree that life transformation isn’t a natural byproduct of being present at church or even being involved in spiritual activities. But the opposite ‘strategy’ of measuring nothing and hoping that holistic discipleship is taking place isn’t good stewardship either. Church leaders need to determine their discipleship ‘lead measures’, things they can directly influence that are predictive of developing disciples, then monitor and act upon those indicators. How do you measure what matters when it comes to discipleship?
Internal AND External. Spiritual growth is an internal process with external manifestations. Making discipleship exclusively internal leads to the privatization of spiritual formation. Focusing solely on the external promotes performance over transformation. How do you lift up one in such a way that it positively influences the other?
Structured AND Organic. Churches with a thriving discipleship culture provide structure, steps and resources while remaining open and organic. People want to know what to do next. They need access to fertile environments in which growth can take place. But how do you be proactive without being prescriptive?
What About Your Church?
If you’re a leader of a large, growing church, what are you doing, learning, and dreaming about holistic discipleship? What are you doing to facilitate life-change among the people of your church and community? What goals do you have that you haven’t figured out? We’d love to learn from you. And if you value collaborating with other teams to learn and plan for the future of discipleship, we have a place for you.
Beginning this fall, Leadership Network will launch our first Holistic Discipleship Leadership Community December 10-11 in Dallas, TX. We are in the process of bringing together 10-12 teams of large, growing churches that place a priority on making disciples, and are committed to improving the processes and methods that can nurture genuine life-change.
If this describes you, I would love to have a conversation and learn more about what you’re doing, learning, and your ambitions for the coming years. Simply complete this online form and we’ll be in touch.
For more information, visit the Holistic Discipleship Leadership Community Web Page.