Church Failure: Most Churches Don’t Understand Discipleship

A couple of Mondays ago, I had the privilege of having a series of conversations with two pastors during a four and half hour walk around a golf course. We were all participating in a Young Life fund-raising event which doubled as a men’s ministry outing for a number of churches in the Columbia, SC area. (A lot of bad golf for a good cause, our fore-some we couldn’t hit a putt to save our lives!) Still, a good time with some men of God.

Four major points around which our conversation revolved concerning . . .

Gearing the Local Church for Discipleship*

Once you have figured out your commitment to discipleship

  1. Don’t let anything divert you from your commitment.
  2. Keep what you do simple and reproducible (two areas of concern)
    • Content or curriculum
      • Keep it basic. Build a solid foundation in people’s lives. Advance material will come. Depth will come. Significant theological understanding will come. But all of it needs a solid and mostly unglamorous and basic foundation.
      • Lombardi illustration: “This is a football.” Build from the ground up.
      • I have a few different things I have used over the years but my guiding principle is that generally speaking “the material is immaterial”. Once you have determined what you think are the foundational things that MUST be learned and internalized–teach it, and get them to teach it to others. The more they teach your basic non-negotiable material, the deeper they will understand it and depth and new material will be gained over time.
      • Teach them to understand basic material profoundly and they will be able to share, teach and live it simply.
    • and Process
      • My preference is one-on-one, especially for men, women are a little different. They are generally relationally more mature than men and often, though very busy, have more discretionary time.
      • Getting two men’s schedules to work out for a weekly meeting is doable. Getting three or more men’s schedules to work out for a weekly meeting grows logarithmically more difficult. Even if you could, each man in the group will have the same problem when they start working with others. 
      • It’s better to train them one-to-one and release them to do what they have seen you do.

That’s enough to start a discussion.

* this is actually the title of a doctoral thesis by Dr. Ron Jenson


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