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  • Writer's pictureDarrell Stetler II

How to Use Your Worship Service to Promote Discipleship

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

This is part 6 of a 10-post blog series that covers the basic strategies for discipleship in the local church. It's called Getting Started with Discipleship Ministry. That link is the index of all 10 posts. If you prefer learning by video workshop, use the link at the bottom of this post.

getting started with discipleship ministry workshop on a laptop

In this chapter, we’ll discuss ways to incorporate discipleship as a core value of your church, actively discussed, promoted, and celebrated during your worship service.

Why Your Worship Service Is So Powerful

The reason that your worship service is so powerful is because there is a gathering aspect to it, that the church is together – and you get to hear things together, and experience things together, love things together, and change things together.


This makes the worship service an incredibly potent tool for promoting discipleship, as it provides a unique opportunity for the creating of shared values. When the Lord's message is proclaimed with a special sense of His presence among the gathered church, the church begins to love what it should love. In light of this, your worship service can serve as an ideal platform to initiate the process of promoting, adapting, and aligning your church's values with the goal of becoming a disciple-making congregation.


The question then arises: how can you effectively integrate this idea into the flow of your worship service? During this time, your congregation has entrusted you with one of the most precious resources of your church: their attention. Whether it be for the next 30 minutes, an hour, or an hour and 15, they have offered you their undivided focus. This makes it a crucial moment for you to convey the message of discipleship, as the majority of your congregation is actively listening and engaged. It is essential to recognize the importance of this opportunity and develop a strategy to utilize this resource effectively within the flow of your worship service.


Promote Discipleship in the Church in fresh ways, not just “announcements time”

Here’s why changing and shifting elements within your worship service is important. Our brains have a built-in filter called the amygdala. It’s located at the base of our brain, and it eliminates irrelevant or insignificant stimuli that does not pose a threat or require action. It helps us focus on what's important, and avoid getting distracted by everyday occurrences. For instance, if you were to pause and listen, you might become aware of a noise in your surroundings that you didn’t notice before. Right now, I can hear the sound of traffic outside that I was not consciously aware of before this moment. This is because my filter had deemed it irrelevant and filtered it out, while I was focused on other things.


As a pastor, leader, or marketer, this concept is crucial to understand! Your brain tends to filter out information it deems irrelevant or insignificant to you, moving it from conscious thought to the subconscious. This means that even though the information exists, you may not notice it anymore, as your brain has decided it has no significance for you.


By intentionally changing and shifting elements within your worship service, you can disrupt this filter and effectively convey the message of disciple-making, capturing the attention and engagement of your congregation.


So we can’t just make an announcement, using the same slide, the same tone, the same time slot every week. If you continue to and don’t provide providing actionable steps, people will tune it out, and their brains will filter it out as insignificant.


When people first hear about the importance of disciple-making, they may be curious and interested in taking action. So how can we capitalize on that?


What makes something memorable?

If you think back about things that you remember, there are certain patterns that begin to emerge. Scientifically, what captures our attention tends to include:

  • Emotion

  • Surprise

  • Novelty

  • Ceremony

You probably remember times you got really angry, or were extremely discouraged (emotion), times when you were genuinely shocked (surprise), when you first saw or bought a cell phone (novelty), or your high school graduation (ceremony).


I share this to give us a framework for brainstorming ideas to communicate discipleship values during gathered worship. Now, let’s get to it.


Let’s brainstorm ideas for communicating discipleship in the church as a top value.

You’ll need to include these parts of your service. For a printable brainstorming sheet that contains all these, with writing space, check out the Getting Started With Discipleship coaching workbook here: www.thediscipleshipcoach.com.


Here’s a starter list of ideas to get you going:


Promoting Discipleship In the Church Worship Service


Prelude / Countdown:

  • You & others could have strategic conversations with potential disciples

  • Carry a copy of some discipleship resources with you as you greet others – ask them to review it and speak to you about it after service.

  • Ask someone the question: “Who are you discipling right now?” (Questions can become powerful culture-makers!)

  • Include an announcement about discipleship in your worship countdown.

  • Advertise a discipleship resource.

  • Have ushers pass out copies of a discipleship resource.

  • Create a worship countdown with quotes about discipleship.


Welcome:

  • If you read a call to worship, make it about discipleship.

  • Specifically mention the value that your church places on discipleship, and take time to define it


Invocation:

  • Include a brief moment of meditation on where you are on your journey of discipleship

  • Use it to define discipleship: Welcome the presence of the Holy Spirit, who is here to make us not just into Christians, but into disciples “copies of Jesus.”


Discipleship Songs / Music Time:

  • Brainstorm a list of songs specifically celebrating or challenging the congregation to discipleship values

  • If you usually do back to back songs, interrupt by reading a scripture on discipleship


Prayer focus:

  • Occasionally use a discipleship prayer such as the ones here to lead your congregation in a Scripture based prayer.

  • special prayer after normal prayer, focusing on discipleship

  • Ask someone in the congregation (ahead of time) to lead a prayer for disciple-makers to rise up

  • “Seed” the ground with discipleship prayer requests - i.e. ask some folks to share them ahead of time


Offering Time:

  • Frame your transition to offering time around the concept of discipleship. "One of the things that disciples do is give generously to the building of the Kingdom of Jesus…"

  • Mention that one of the reasons that churches give is so that they can offer materials for discipleship for free.


Video features:

  • Ask a denominational leader, respected pastor, author, or well-known speaker in your circles to record a video urging people toward discipleship


Special testimonies:

  • If you have a person who is being discipled, ask them to share a 3-minute testimony about how it's changing their life

  • Ask someone who has been discipled in the past to share about how they were discipled.

  • Ask someone who is discipling someone else, to share how it is encouraging them

  • Ask someone who has recently agreed to become a disciple maker to share a testimony on when they realized that it was their mandate

  • Ask every board member to become a disciple maker, then ask them to share a testimony in rotation


Announcements:

  • Create a rotating list of announcements

  • Write a series of scripts.

  • Have someone new deliver them.

  • Break out portions of your discipleship process and announce them separately…

  • At my church this would mean new start discipleship journal, obedience challenge, discipleship in the home, baptism challenge, etc

  • Speaking of baptism, schedule a baptism Sunday a couple months out in advance, then use that as an opportunity to talk about your discipleship process.

  • Make heroes: ask a disciple maker and their disciple to stand, or present them with a gift card. Read the Great commission!

  • Have a discipleship counter… ask anyone who's in a discipleship relationship to register, announce the growing total each Sunday, and celebrate it!


Sermons on Discipleship

  • Preach on it - This should be obvious, but it isn't for some people.

  • Preach a series on Jesus' invitations to discipleship

  • Purchase series on John's Little children, young men, fathers paradigm for spiritual growth.

  • Preach a spiritual basics for new Christians series

  • Purchase series on the spiritual disciplines

  • Never preach a series on discipleship without offering clear next steps!


Invitations

  • Try a come forward invitation.

  • Try a "go to the resource table" invitation for a discipleship Bible study

  • Try a invitation for disciple makers

  • Try an invitation for Christians you have realized during this series that they have never been discipled


Benedictions

  • Use a scriptural benediction, from the words of Peter about growing in grace


Postlude

  • Ask everyone to turn to their neighbor as they are going, and ask the question "has anyone ever discipled you?"

  • Or ask the question "who are you discipling right now?"


Conversations in the foyer

  • Ask a discipleship champion to hang around and start conversations on discipleship until the crowd is gone. (More on this in a later chapter)





A video course to guide you into creating a plan for discipleship in the local church:

getting started with discipleship course graphic on a laptop

Do you prefer to learn in a video workshop format? Purchase the workshop! Featuring:

  • an instantly downloadable 36-page workbook

  • print copies for other key leaders in your church

  • 10 practical video coaching sessions

  • specific action items for each session

getting started with your discipleship plan workbook image



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