The Great Calling of the Church: Discipleship

Discipleship is the great calling of the church, and the only soil that grows disciples is a local church culture of spiritual formation. Every other ministry of the church can (and should) grow from this soil.

The Great Calling of the Church: Discipleship

Discipleship is the great calling of the church, and the only soil that grows disciples is a local church culture of spiritual formation. Every other ministry of the church can (and should) grow from this soil.

But here’s the challenge: Each church already has an existing culture; any attempt to change the mixture of the “soil” will require the deep, patient work of tilling, fertilizing and weeding. Culture change is neither a tactic nor a strategy: It is a transformation. Peter Drucker famously observed, “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” He should have said “breakfast, lunch and dinner” because the prevailing culture in any organization is the great unspoken factor in ministry. (Note to church planters: Start here, because by the time your church is two years old, church culture is beginning to produce fruit, either good or bad.)

Issues of spiritual formation and discipleship are not questions of planning, method or even teaching—they are hardly even questions at all. Spiritual formation and discipleship are more like horticulture than education. The ground is prepared, seeds are selected and planted, weeds are tended as they arise, and the harvest can seem like a distant dream. But good soil brings great harvests. Success in making disciples is not (at first) measured quantitatively, but qualitatively.

Here are the kinds of questions we should be asking: Are the people of our church becoming more like Jesus? Do we even think it’s possible to be conformed to the image of Christ? Do our leaders think it’s possible? Who should do the work of making disciples? How does spiritual growth interact with the metrics of attendance and finances? Is my church’s current cultural model sustainable apart from outside instruction or motivation? If our facilities and resources vanished, could our church continue to exist?

Recommended On ChurchPlants:  Without Discipleship, Your Church Is the Fellowship of Low Expectations

Being a disciple—and making disciples—is where personal growth and church life intersect. So (together) we should all ask these questions. Why not bring them up at your church?

  • Mr. Hollenbach:
    Discipleship has been a word that Holy Spirit has been placing on my heart and in my mouth as I pray, these recent days. I am not a church planter; merely a participant in an already-established assembly.

    As many other intercessors, revival has long been spoken in my prayers and longed for in my heart. I am confident that this is because God’s season for world-wide revival and renewal is fast approaching.

    Just weeks ago, I felt a deep rumbling in my spirit. The questions rose up, “As I am going out, filled with Holy Spirit, ministering the Gospel of the Kingdom in Word and Signs following, and people’s hearts are moved, repentance comes and new citizens are added to the Kingdom……what do I do with them? Can I direct them to the place I am currently attending?

    Sadly, I have not encountered a culture there where new converts are welcomed, nurtured, and encouraged in discovering place, mentored, and set free to mentor.

    I have considered using my home, but I am the only believer there, and I am not free to use my home for this purpose……even if I knew how. I need the body to do it well.

    So, as I am an intercessor and part of that function has been to see and speak the soon-coming moves and needs from Heaven’s Kingdom to earth, in prayer, I have begun to pray for my leadership to have a revelation of discipleship and just what needs to be put in place as this revival is imminent. I, too, need to be discipled.

    I am also searching for others who are wrestling with this reality and understanding how to move into discipleship that will not leave Kingdom Citizen’s floundering.

    Thank you for your article. Are there more knowledgeable people writing about this to help?