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  • Writer's pictureDarrell Stetler II

How to Involve Your Congregation in Disciple-Making

Updated: Feb 6

One of the most frequent things that pastors tell me is this: "No one else does any disciple-making in my church. I'm the only one!"

This is definitely a problem.

But WHY? Why don't they?

How to involve your congregation in disciple-making

Why Aren't My Church People Discipling Others?

Well, luckily, the Barna Group has done some research on this in their study on discipleship a few years ago. I've purchased the study and read it, and it's very helpful.

They asked 1,643 Christian adults who were not making disciples WHY they weren't doing it. I think the answers give us great hope. You ready?

Here are the top 3 answers according to that study:

  • Don't think I'm qualified. (37%)

  • No one has suggested it / asked me (27%)

  • Just haven't thought about it. (22%)

screenshot from Barna Group's barriers to making disciples question

Here's why there's good news buried in there: Because you can solve all those problems! Here's how:

1. How to solve "I don't think I'm qualified."

If people feel like something is deeply complex, or requires significant skills or equipment they don't have, they'll avoid it.

You already know this! If you're not a welder, you will avoid welding, even if you have something around your house you could fix by welding it. Why? Probably because you don't feel qualified. They don't have the equipment and they've never been shown how to use it.

37% of people who are not making disciples are feeling like that!

But this is actually great news, because it means if you could give someone the equipment and show them how to use it, you remove the excuse that 37% of people use for not making disciples.

What you need to do is create a clear and simple pathway for discipleship, one that doesn't depend on having a teaching gift or a theology degree... then put that in place so that every single Christian can know

How NewStart Discipleship solves this problem:

NewStart Discipleship de-mystifies discipleship by creating a clear and simple pathway for discipleship. The new believer reading plans and easy discipleship workbooks create a clear pathway, and the daily teaching videos remove the need for every disciple-maker to need a theology degree or spiritual gift of teaching.

2. How to solve "No one has suggested it."

24% of people not involved in making disciples said this was their reason. Again, this is good news... because there's a way to fix it!

It's really simple. You've got to ask people!

I don't mean just preach on it. Sure, you must preach on it. You need to announce it.

At our church, our staff has a saying: Personal recruitment works better than pulpit announcement.

You will need to recruit people. You can make this easier by letting people know right up front that your goal is to get them to make disciples, that you're recruiting them for disciple-making!

When I launched NewStart Discipleship at my church, I printed 100 copies of this, and told my congregation I wanted us all to go through it together. I told them right up front, "I want us all to go through this, even if you've been a Christian for 20 years, and here's why: I want you to be able to take someone else through it, when I come ask you."

a disciple-making resource I used at my church

I want it to be that no one at my church could say, "No one ever asked me."

Want the Discipleship Journal? Drop your name and email here:

3. How to solve "Just haven't thought about it."

People are busy and distracted. There's about 1 billion streaming services, and everyone's got a smartphone. I can guarantee you that the Devil wants to make sure that people "just don't think about it" when it comes to discipleship, and he's got tools everywhere to make sure they never do.

So you're going to have to be on the other side.

Disciple-Making Must be A Visible Priority In Your Church

Disciple-making must move to front-and-center for your church. How? Well, there are a lot of potential ways to do that, and I've written more details about disciple-making priorities here. But here are at least 3 ways:

Strategy #1: Discipleship Resource table

Create physical space for discipleship by creating a discipleship resource and response table.

Here's what ours looks like in my church:

I put out resources, promote it via presentation slides, and visually communicate that it matters to our congregation and leadership.

Strategy #2: Meetings and Announcements Space

Create mental space for discipleship in the leaders by learning and planning, in the pastoral staff by meetings & discussion, and in the congregation by preaching and announcements.

I once heard pastor James Meeks say, "One thing that kills churches is 'failure to preach the announcements.'" He's not talking about a style of communication. He's talking about providing clear ways the congregation can respond to the truth of the word of God. We've got to create an alignment between preaching, announcements, and resources for action if we want making disciples to become a priority!

Strategy #3: Dedicated time slot on the church calendar

It's wise to create schedule space for discipleship by dedicating a time slot to it.

Ministry calendars are sacred space, aren't they? Well, does discipleship multiplication have a time slot?

Disciple-Making Is the Main Thing

It's essential to remember that disciple-making isn't just an idea we came up with; it's a biblical priority. Jesus himself commanded in Matthew 28:19-20, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." Additionally, the apostle Paul, in 2 Timothy 2:2, urged Timothy, his disciple, to entrust what he learned to reliable people who would then teach others. This underscores the chain reaction of disciple-making, emphasizing its perpetual importance in the life of the church. Making disciples isn't just a strategy; it's the main thing.

The old saying in leadership is that "The Main Thing is to keep the Main Thing the Main Thing." And the Main Thing -- is DISCIPLE-MAKING. How are your priorities reflecting that?

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