The following is part 3 in a five-part series, Finding your disciple-making sweet spot, by Scott Sullivan, Georgia Baptist Discipleship catalyst.
In Part I of this series, we laid out a pathway to find your disciple-making sweet spot and focused on the importance of a quality new member class. In Part II we outlined how Jesus made disciples in multiple layers and keyed on the importance of an intentional large group experience that complements rather than competes with other layers of discipleship in your church.
It’s now time to zero in on “the thumb” of your disciple-making strategy. Yep, your Sunday school classes or small groups are the thumb, the connector, or the “grabber” in your strategy. Have you ever tried to pick up a spoon, to drink from a cup, to throw a baseball, or to shake a hand WITHOUT using your thumb? Super awkward! That same awkward and unimpressive feeling is what a guest experiences when they attend a Bible study group in your church that is not engaging, gospel-centered, and multiplying. Every study I have read on healthy growing churches says that churches must learn to connect people if they want to keep people and move them to spiritual maturity.
The great temptation: connection vs. spiritual maturity
Let me be clear, connection is not the point of your small group or Sunday School class. Christ-likeness is the goal! Connecting people to a group is very important but it is simply one element of moving group members toward spiritual maturity. The key for church leaders is to create a system where the large group worship gathering and the small group Bible study/fellowship complement one another.
Side note: Pastor, you are the key to moving your people toward spiritual maturity as you hear from the Holy Spirit, model the life of a disciple-maker, network with other leaders attempting similar shifts in ministry, and lead your church to attempt God-sized dreams.
The most important layer?
If you had to settle on one layer of your disciple-making strategy as the most important, what would it be?
- The corporate worship layer is critical for the pastor to share Holy Spirit-inspired vision, to correct as needed, and to motivate those who would rather sit on their “premises” than stand on the promises.
- The small group is certainly important as we seek to help believers learn to live out the gospel and not just have a head knowledge of the gospel.
- The smaller group of believers that meets for deep spiritual growth and accountability is also critical.
- The most critical layer, in my opinion, of any disciple-making strategy is the individual believer’s one-on-one relationship with God. Think about the condition of our world today. Every major world leader knows where the World War III button is. As we look at current world leaders, there is a possibility that we will experience this type of cataclysmic event in our lifetime. And, if we lose, you will most likely not be able to freely attend a worship gathering like you did this past Sunday.
My question: how many of your church member’s spiritual lives will fall apart because they are dependent on you (pastor) to give them the Word of God? This dependency is neither healthy nor biblical!
The secret sauce
Perhaps the time has come for a change in strategy and in practical application at your church. Many growing and healthy churches have tasted the secret sauce of connections when strategy and practical application meet and life transformation happens. The secret sauce looks like:
- Connecting in an authentic relationship with Jesus and worship Him privately and corporately
- Connecting with a small group of believers that intentionally multiplies and is gospel-centered
- Connecting on a service team based on spiritual giftedness and not based on the need of the moment in the local church
If our discipleship team can help you process this topic further, please contact us at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. We would love to hear from you, and we are here to serve!