Developing a Culture of Discipleship in Your Community

By Floyd McClung

Defining terms:

Develop: to change, to become mature; to develop is not to teach but to model, assist, watch, then leave or hand things over. To develop disciples is more that teaching disciples.

Culture: A culture is an environment. A discipleship culture is a culture of radical obedience and passion to make more disciples. It is a movement environment!

Discipleship: to invest in one another’s lives intentionally with the goal of seeing a movement of fruit bearing, reproducing followers of Jesus Christ

What we are not talking about is measuring our effectiveness by the size of our church or the popularity of our programs, but rather looking for the longing of the majority of the people in our community to be multiplying the life of Jesus in others, and they in turn doing the same thing. We measure success by making disciples who make disciples who do like wise. 2 Timothy 2:2

What is the Secret to Developing a Disciple Making, Fruit Bearing, Reproducing Community?

1. Good soil. Jesus taught his disciples how to identify receptive soil. Read the Parable of the sower in Luke 8 and Mark 4. Jesus taught his disciples the parable of the sower and the soil. He told them this was the most important of all the parables – if they didn’t understand this parable they wouldn’t understand any parable. He said there are two types of soil: receptive and resistant, and the three types of receptive soil (rocky, thorny, and fruitful). He said only one type produces fruit. In Luke 10 he taught the same thing, but in a different way. He taught them to look for the person of peace wherever they went. Four types of soil: hard, superficial, shallow, and receptive soil. If you were a farmer and you wanted a good crop, would you focus on the first three kinds of soil or the latter? You might prepare bad soil if it is not receptive, but you would give attention to the soil that is fruitful.

Don’t baby sit unfruitful people. Love them but focus on those who are serious. This creates a culture of discipleship!

Understanding this parable will change everything about how you think and act:

  1. The way you do ministry
  2. How you see people
  3. What you are responsible for and who you are not responsible for
  4. Who you give your time and attention to
  5. Motivate you to make disciples who make disciples

What the Bible says about bad and good soil people:

  • James 2:5
  • Matt. 18:3
  • Matt. 7:7
  • 1 Cor. 1:27
  • Lk. 18:24-25

2. Good seed. Having the right seed is essential. Jesus taught his disciples to sow abundant gospel seed. The sower in the parable of the sower and the seed sows extravagantly, almost wastefully. He scatters the seed everywhere. In every fruit bearing, reproducing movement in the earth today, there is abundant sowing of the gospel seed. If the soil is this parable is the hearts of people, then the seed is the gospel, the good news of Jesus. It is not church, it is not programs, it is not theology or doctrine, it is Jesus. Don’t defend “Christianity,” don’t argue doctrine, sow Jesus! Share him, talk about him, tell people about him, tell your story about how you came to know Jesus. No shame. No fear. Do it in every conversation and every relationship.

3. Willing Sowers. Jesus taught his disciples to sow the seed every where they went. Don’t buy into the relativism, the tolerance of our culture. Raise up people who are culturally engaged, but are radically obedient to share Jesus. Teach people to over come fear. Help them learn how to share their story.

4. Water the Soil. Water is prayer. Praying for the soil allows us to love our city and our generation the way Jesus does. It prepares our heart to believe for a harvest. Prayer releases faith in our hearts. Pray for a harvest. Prayer is essential to see a harvest. It is the water that causes the seed to grow. It is God’s way of inviting us into a relationship of dependence on Him and love for those he is drawing to himself. Develop a culture of prayer. Early morning prayer. Prayer walking. Seasons of 24 hour prayer. Half nights of prayer. Fasting and prayer. Pray in every gathering. Pray in every one on one relationship, in every small group, for people to come to know and reproduce the life of Jesus.

5. Pull weeds and prune the vines. Jesus taught us to cooperate with pruning. Weeds can choke the plant. Teach the word and teach people to teach themselves the word. Teach holiness. Train people to be obedient to the commands of Jesus. His seven basic commands are the truth that produces obedient disciples. Spiritual disciplines are what make people grow and reproduce.

The Disciple Making Process

  • Pray – with desperation and focus for fruit bearing disciples who make more disciples
  • Connect – with people’s hearts who are hungry to grow and obey Jesus
  • Disciple – a few individuals who are willing to study the Gospels with you – ask your disciples to disciple others and then hold them accountable to do so
  • Gather – 2 or more of your disciples in a D-Group (discipleship group), and grow together (see for a simple three step outline for D-Groups)
  • Multiply – train your disciples to start their own D-Groups following the same process you have: first pray for the lost, connect with people who don’t know Jesus, disciple a few individuals, gather them, and then teach them to start new groups themselves