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The perennial problem for almost every church is the revolving back door. This problem stems in large part from a failure to establish a clear discipleship process. The goal of the church ought to be not only to share the gospel and see conversions but also to make disciples of those whose lives are impacted by the ministry of the church. Only by keeping the people involved and committed will true Christian discipleship be accomplished.
The initial stage of this process is a personal ENCOUNTER with Jesus and a salvation decision. This step is essential for not just the eternal security of the individual, but also for the long-term health of the church. We need people who have submitted themselves to Jesus as Lord as a part of the local church.
After a person has joined the church, the next step in the process is for them to ENGAGE through small groups and discipleship. Small groups are an important element in disciple-making and need to be a central element to the assimilation of new members. The new member in a church can feel lost in the crowd, but a small group setting like Sunday School affords them the opportunity to build close relationships with and to be ministered to in a more personal manner.
This step, ENCOURAGE, is the make or break moment for the maturity of the member. Many members are content to sit back and let the professionals, i.e. paid staff, do the work of ministry. However, that is not a biblical understanding of the Christian’s responsibility to the church. A member who engages through a small group is much less likely to leave, but that is not the end goal for the Christian. A member who begins encouraging others through service in the body is much more productive for the kingdom.
After a member begins serving at the church, there is still one step they need to take. We want and desire service to the body of the church, but we want and desire for the kingdom to EXPAND. Members need to understand their responsibility to take the gospel in both verbal and active forms to the community, country, and world. Again, the church will need to provide venues for members to take the gospel out, but at this point in the development, it is also logical to assume that members will begin taking initiative in outreach and evangelism.
Any process will be more effective if it is evaluated. This proposal can be evaluated on an individual and church wide level following implementation using the following checklist/visual or a variation thereof.