“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”
What does it mean for a disciple to grow? If the gospel were to take root more deeply in your church's life, how would you know? Would you look at their spiritual vitality? Would you look at their emotional health, their cross-cultural competency, their organization of time, energy and gifts toward serving their neighbors?
Almost every congregation wants to find a way to cultivate, identify and multiply the growth of disciples who make disciples. Such a structure springs from John and Charles Wesley’s effectiveness in organizing groups of disciples. But often, congregations are hampered by uncertainty about how to define success. How might your congregation define a healthy discipleship ecosystem?
Together with local church leaders, Church Multiplication and Discipleship (CMAD) has been working to identify runways for discipleship that already exist in our churches; identifying ways in which laity and clergy, women and men, rural and urban communities can all find common language and practices in producing disciple-making cultures. These runways include both structure and coaching to enrich the local church’s approach to discipleship.
The structure component helps churches identify the needs of their congregation and pursue discipleship that meets the following five criteria:
- Intentional — What is the plan for discipleship? In what we say, pray and do with our space, are we pointing people to discipleship on purpose?
- Holistic — How is discipleship affecting the heads, heart and hands of our congregation?
- Multiplying — Are we reproducing believers, leaders and churches?
- Relational — How is the gospel affecting people’s quality of relationships; across age, economics, ability and ethnicity?
- Lifelong — What is our vision for discipleship in every age and stage?
Rather than putting forth a rigid method of discipleship, these criteria can serve to stimulate questions through which our congregations can reflect on their practice of discipleship. Every curriculum, group and class benefits from being intentional, holistic, multiplying, relational and lifelong. Conversations about how your congregation is engaging in each category should be met with an opportunity for gratitude and growth, reflected CMAD Director of Discipleship Rev. Kim Gladden. “Celebrate your areas of strength. And then ... work on strengthening at least a basic dexterity in the areas where you’re not as strong now,” she shared. “These prompts are not meant to be the final word on your discipleship model, but they simply serve as a discussion starter for you and your leadership team.”
Leadership teams will benefit from these conversations; but most churches also find themselves in cultural conversations — whether about theology, organizational transparency, social engagement, holiness or other concerns — that benefit from practical and theological frameworks. So along with the structure offered by CMAD, the coaching component of The Wesleyan Church’s discipleship movement offers theologically-rooted relationships that help churches drive toward wholeness in Christ.
Through this component, practitioners and theological experts from around the Wesleyan family will help church leaders refine their approach to discipleship in their contexts and especially lean into challenges congregations are facing. This coaching is accessible through CMAD-hosted online conversations, at events like the Wesleyan AMPLIFY shoulder event — October 18 at Wheaton College — which will feature a keynote from Intervarsity National Evangelist York Moore and the following sessions addressing crucial issues shaping our congregations:
- Developing Your Discipleship Pathway, Megan Koch.
- Digital Discipleship, Corey Seales.
- The Revival We Need: Reclaiming Our Wesleyan Voice, Mark Wilson.
- Emotionally Healthy Discipleship, Dave Higle.
- Safe Discipleship Conversation on Culture, Race & Ethnicity, Dan Walker and panel.
- Elementos del Discipulado, Luigi Peñaranda — en Español.
But perhaps one of the most consequential aspects bringing together coaching and structure is The Wesleyan Church Discipleship App (available on both Apple and Android devices), which will be launching at the Wesleyan AMPLIFY shoulder event. This tool will help disciple-makers access resources and cultivate relationships.
These components — gatherings, structures, coaching and prayerful work — are central to a Wesleyan vision of Christian flourishing.
In work and in prayer, The Wesleyan Church continues to believe in God’s ability to Unleash a Kingdom Force in every church, workplace, neighborhood, family and friendship.