In the fast-paced world of smaller churches, where pastors often juggle multiple responsibilities and limited resources, making disciple-making a visible priority can be challenging. Yet, it is an essential aspect of fostering a thriving and spiritually mature congregation. In this article, we'll explore four actionable ways to make disciple-making a priority, offering practical advice tailored to the unique challenges faced by pastors of smaller churches.
1. Make it a Priority by Creating Physical Space for It
One effective way to emphasize disciple-making is by creating a designated physical space within your church. Consider setting up a discipleship resource table that serves as a focal point for congregants seeking guidance and materials. NewStart Discipleship provides valuable support in this area, offering pre-designed table covers, screen graphics for announcements, and high-quality discipleship materials to engage and equip your community.
Here's an example of the discipleship space one pastor in an urban church created with NewStart's materials:
Do you see how that kind of space can visually communicate the priority of discipleship in the life of a church? It's literally taking up space, creating a clear place to respond to the call to be a disciple-maker!
2. Make it a Priority by Creating Mental Space for It in Church Leadership
While most pastors know that being a disciple-maker is a priority from Jesus himself, they frequently are operating without a plan and without focused thinking about how they might CREATE a plan. This needs to change!
Disciple-making requires intentional focus from church leadership. Pastoral staff should set aside time for prayer, reading, and discussions aimed at enhancing their effectiveness in disciple-making. By fostering a culture of continuous learning and reflection, leaders can lay the groundwork for a church community that values and actively engages in the process of making disciples.
The Discipleship Coach's discipleship coaching program recommends at least 15 minutes per day, attached to your devotional time or administrative time, given to thinking about and taking action on discipleship.
I agree. I think that's a good place to start!
3. Make it a Priority by Creating Schedule Space for It in the Church Calendar
The church calendar is a sacred space that communicates priorities to the congregation. By allocating specific time slots for disciple-making activities, such as small group meetings, workshops, or training sessions, pastors signal the importance of this aspect of Christian life. Consistency in scheduling reinforces the idea that disciple-making is not an afterthought but a core element of church life.
4. Make it a Priority by Creating Communication Space in Announcements and Preaching
When was the last time your congregation heard a sermon specifically focused on disciple-making? Integrating disciple-making themes into preaching and announcements reinforces its importance. Provide crystal clear calls to action, encouraging immediate responses to Christ's command to "go and make disciples." This proactive approach ensures that making disciples remains at the forefront of your congregation's collective consciousness.
5. Make it a Priority by Recruiting a Discipleship Champion
Consider appointing a discipleship champion within your congregation. This doesn't have to be a full-time role; it could be someone with a passion for disciple-making who can spearhead initiatives and rally others to join the cause. This not only lightens the load on the pastor but also engages the broader church community in the disciple-making process.
In the midst of the small church hustle & bustle, NewStart Discipleship stands ready to make your life a bit easier. Founded by a seasoned pastor who knows the ropes, they offer cost-effective materials and strategies that won't leave your wallet crying. It's time to shift from the "winging it" approach to a clear path to discipleship success.
Disciple-Making Must Become a Priority, and that Starts With Leadership
Henry Cloud says that after you've been in leadership for 2+ years in one organization, you can't blame the past for the organization's priorities. Frankly, at that point, you've got the things you created or allowed.
Ouch. You've got to find ways to communicate that disciple-making is a priority for you and your church.
In conclusion, making disciple-making a top priority in your small church is not just a dream – it's an achievable reality. By creating physical, mental, schedule, communication, and recruitment spaces for disciple-making, you're not just talking the talk; you're walking the walk. Effective disciple-making is not just about creating followers but empowering every believer to become a disciple-maker.
So, how will you make disciple-making an integral part of your church's DNA? Let's make it happen!