Thinking Intentionally About Discipleship

What if the church started thinking and acting more intentionally about how we make disciples? This is the second article in a five-part series on increasing effectiveness in developing disciples by making small shifts in our behavior, based on Daniel Im’s book No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts That Will Transform Your Ministry.
The second shift Im highlights in his book is to move from focusing on the output goals to the input goals of discipleship. It should come as no surprise that we are typically driven by outputs and outcomes. We always want to win the championship, to make the honor roll, or to lose 20 pounds. Similarly, in the church we desire to see people come to faith in Jesus and grow and mature in their faith as disciples. That is a Kingdom win.
Rarely will anyone win the championship, make the honor roll or lose 20 pounds without developing intentional practices (e.g. drills and training, study, diet and exercise) that will eventually produce the desired result. Likewise, if it is our desire to see people (plural, as in many) come to know Jesus and to grow and mature as his disciples, we need to think and act intentionally about the patterns and practices that will eventually lead to the outcome we are hoping for.
The author learned from extensive research on discipleship that the solution isn’t simply more education. This isn’t to say that discipleship education is unimportant, just is far less important than previously thought. Instead, the research pointed to various faith practices having a larger impact on discipleship outcomes. As one example, according to the research, the faith practice that had the greatest influence on people to share Christ with others was regularly and meaningfully confessing sin and receiving forgiveness. Classically, we likely would have believed that if we desire people to share their faith we need to teach them how to share their faith. As it turns out, this educational input is incomplete. Experiencing the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus first hand is what actually moves people to share Jesus.
This is just one example of the intentional faith practice that we can and should focus on that will lead to the desired result. So, what is it that you can do to help make disciples more effectively? What faith practices can you and your church engage in that will result in the win? If we’d like to see different results in our neighborhoods and communities, then it is time to get to work and figure out what we can intentionally do differently that with the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit will lead to Kingdom wins.
Pastor Bryce Formwalt is the Director of Mission Growth for the LCMC Texas District. Residing in Georgetown, Pastor Bryce is available to coach congregations on mission. Feel free to contact him with any questions or comments: 512-942-7776 or
© 2018 Bryce J. Formwalt, All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.
September 2018

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