Effective Discipleship

Effective discipleship

No one would question that discipleship is important, even essential to Christianity. Yet, in my opinion as a whole, the Church is failing in effective discipleship. I think there are various reasons for this gaping hole in our church paradigm ranging from time issues to commitments. But there are a few things we can do as the Church if we really want to become more effective in discipleship and reaching the next generation for Christ.

Be intentional.

Effective discipleship (1)Before leaving His disciples behind, Jesus gave the command many of us are familiar with: “Go and make disciples…” Discipling others is not an afterthought of Jesus, but instead His determined way of reaching the world. Whether you realize it or not, you are always discipling others. The question is: is it in the way of Christ? Discipleship happens whether you plan or prepare for it. But effective discipleship only happens with certain intentionality. Choosing to make disciples of Jesus is not an option Christians can ignore. Effective discipleship begins when we understand discipling others is the way Christ intends for us to live out our lives. We have to take the initiative and reach out to others around us with intentionality.

Leverage influence.

Everyone has some amount of influence. What are you doing with that influence? What we fail to Effective discipleship (2)believe is that our influence matters. But it does! The influence you have is much more powerful than you realize. Taking the relationships you have and investing in them is a huge part of effective discipleship. Far too many are “waiting” to have more influence or hoping to have a greater audience. This is not Jesus’ concern. Jesus is asking what are you doing with the one or two relationships you have right now? I believe that if you leverage well the influence you have now, you will become more effective in discipling greater numbers later…but it just may be through those you have discipled.

People, not programs.

Effective discipleship (4)Discipleship is about people, i.e. relationships. One of the reasons I believe discipleship has been so ineffective in the past is that churches have spent too much time trying to develop programs to “disciple” people. Programs are good for doctrine but not necessarily for discipleship. People disciple people, not programs. Yes, in discipling others, teaching the Bible, studying scripture, prayer etc. are all part of the relationship, but discipleship is not about completing a list or course. Discipleship is about loving people, equipping people and empowering people but also sharing in the God-life together. As every person is unique and different, so will every approach need to be in discipling them in Jesus’ way. The only way to find what each person needs and where they need to grow is to spend time together. Effective discipleship hinges on building meaningful relationships with others. Apart from healthy relationships, there is no effective discipleship.

What else do you see as being essential to effective discipleship? Comment below.

George Profile George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the creative arts and mission pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA

3 Essentials To Becoming An Effective Change Agent In Your Church

3 Essentials to becoming an effective

It’s a common thought to say that everything changes. However, it’s the way things change that is often off-putting. Quite frankly, some people never recover from some changes they experience in church and end up leaving because of it. Here are three thoughts on how we can do better at introducing changes and helping people acclimate to a new atmosphere and culture.

Be Defined

If we were honest about it, most of don’t like abrupt change at all. Simply allowing people to know what to expect and when to expect it, can bring about a “win” for the change. People may understand that changes are coming but they need to understand the change. Ambiguity and disorder are not considered change but chaos and no one wants to hang around in that kind of culture. To keep people through massive changes, be clear and defined.

Be Available

People are going to have questions about any changes they feel affects them. They will want to know why it’s necessary and what are the benefits. Being available to meet with the people who have questions will help usher in changes and give you the opportunity to turn possible “fren-emies” into champions of the change. Fight against being too “busy” to address people personally. Your availability will help the change to avail.

Be Invitational

Get others involved in the changes. Seek for synergy and community. Don’t look at having more people as “more potential problems”. Instead look at them as “more power for change”. If the team/congregation has the buy-in, then your job as the leader is to make sure there is a tie-in. Knowing people’s skill sets and talents through being available allows you to be invitational and get people doing the right things at the right time to bring about the desired changes.

We can all be change agents in our congregations but we have to handle change with care. What are your suggestions for becoming a more effective change agent?

George ProfileGeorge Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the creative arts and mission pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA

4 Tips For Preparing Talks

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For many people, preparing talks each week can be a very daunting task. From coming up with material to finding clever ways to present it, speakers, preachers, or volunteers can stress heavily over preparing talks. I’d like to share a few thoughts that may be helpful in creating and crafting your next talk. Aside from prayer, working through these steps will help anyone deliver a very meaningful and purposeful presentation.

What Is The Main Thought?

When creating your message, consider what the main thought is to be. Can you boil it down to a theme or topic? Can you succinctly state what you want your listeners to get out of hearing you? There’s nothing more important than knowing your own thesis and theme. When you know your thesis, you can weed out the unnecessary or trivial. Don’t include it if it doesn’t add value to your talk. Clear the clutter. Write your main thought in one sentence. Limit it to a few words…think: “is it tweetable” (can it be said in 140 characters or less)?

What Is The Main Text?

Sometimes when we are leading through talks, sermons or messages, the topic will be defined by the text. Other times, the main thought will need to have definitive text to inform the topic. As you read through different texts, be sure to research the texts, using commentaries, differing translations and books. If possible find a key text and then surround other verses to support your main topic or thesis. As you prepare, remember to pray and seek out cultural and contextual nuances of the passage. Context is essential in communicating truth.

What Is The Main Tie-In?

When I speak I always try to find a tie-in, something that can communicate and reinforce what I have been saying. This could be a song, video, object lesson or personal story. Finding supportive stories or relevant anecdotes will not only tie your talk together but also tie-in your audience in as they relate to common shared experiences. Don’t overwhelm your talk with stories, jokes, or videos. Make sure that the ones you choose are going to be powerful and meaningful. Loop back often to your main thought because that’s what you want people to tie your story to.

What Is The Main Take Away?

Knowing what you want people to walk away with and how to apply the talk is crucial for success. As the speaker, preacher, it’s essential that you give the people actionable, measurable ways to use what you have just spent valuable time talking about. Whether it’s something they can do personally or in community, directing people on how to use what they now know is the best way to close out a talk. What people hear can change their thinking, what people experience can change their lives. So make sure you strive to put the talk to work in daily life scenarios.

Those are some of my tips for crafting a talk. What ways work best for you? Share some of your ideas in the comments.

DSC_0595George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves on staff as the mission coordinator and creative arts pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA