As I speak with pastors about discipleship, there seems to be this notion that discipleship training is for new believers only. And yes, there definitely needs to be some kind of system in every church where new believers begin discipleship training immediately after salvation. But don’t stop there! There are many other uses and purposes for discipleship training in your church.
Youth need Discipleship Training
Some think youth are too busy with their school work and social life to go through discipleship training. That is simply not true. We have many of youth going through Relational DIscipleship training. They love it. They love to learn, memorize scripture, be held accountable for their daily time with God. They enjoy the classroom stimulation. I found that youth want and need to be challenged. Not only that, discipleship training produces a very important need in every young student’s life – discretion. Discipleship training teaches discretion that helps youth determine the right path from the wrong path, between good and evil. Philippians 1:9-10 says that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to
desern what is best and maybe pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Proverbs 16:22 says discretion is a life-giving fountain to those who possess it.
Discipleship Training is a Incubator for Future Volunteers and Leaders
Better than teacher training courses or even leadership training, discipleship training is the best place to start when training future volunteers and leaders in the church. Through four decades now, I have required teachers, volunteers, and even staff to go through discipleship training. I have found that DT gives church members a love for God’s Word and therefore an innate desire to pass it on to others. Many one-year discipleship graduates become Sunday School teachers, small group leaders, pastors, and outreach and evangelism ministers. God’s Word stirs up God-given giftings inside a discipleship student. Most believers become active, fruitful, and supportive members of the body of Christ as they receive discipleship training.
Discipleship Training Raises the Spiritual Maturity Level of the Church
Just because a church is a large congregation does not mean it’s a spiritually growing or mature congregation. Or just because a congregation is made of older people does not make it spiritually mature. The Church at Ephesus was supposedly a large church with many members but had “lost their first love” – their spiritual growth had become stunted. The same is true with many of our evangelical churches today. Many church worshippers have not grown beyond salvation and are still on “the milk.” Pastors can’t preach or teach the deeper things of God because the congregation isn’t ready to receive them. Churches that have a system of discipleship will eventually raise the level of maturity of the entire congregation. The outcome of that will be a church that loves not
just to hear the Word of God but to be doers as well.
Discipleship Training Brings Unity to the Church
When the entire church is active in intentional discipleship training it levels the playing field in the church. Everyone is growing together, even the disciplers, and the pastoral staff grows alongside those that they are disicpling. Spiritual pride can bring division in a church, eventually destroying it. When everyone of all ages are learning and growing together and being accountable to each other, unity in the body happens. A church growing and laboring together is like a green, vibrant looking garden filled with plants of all kinds producing fruits. But it all starts with the seeds of God’s truth being planted in the hearts of God’s people.
I want to encourage you no matter the size of your church to develop a system of discipleship. If you need some help, call on us here. We will be glad to sit down with you and help you come with a discipleship plan that fits your church. You can see great fruit in the house where you serve. But it starts with making disciples of everyone in your church.