Serious About Disciplemaking

Several years ago Bill Hybels—founder and senior pastor at Willow Creek Community Church outside of Chicago—commissioned a survey to determine just how many of the thousands of people who regularly attend his church are becoming “fully devoted followers of Christ.”

When the results came in, Pastor Hybels was encouraged to learn that half of the church said they “loved God more than anything else” and were showing love for others by reaching out to their unchurched friends and ministering to the poor.
 
Yet the survey startled the pastor when it reflected that one of four people in his congregation were “stalled” in their spiritual growth or “dissatisfied” with the church—many were even thinking about moving on!
 
“When I heard these results,” he writes in REVEAL: Where Are You?, “the pain of knowing was almost unbearable. Upon reflection, I realized that the pain of not knowing could be catastrophic.”
 
Today, the REVEAL Spiritual Life Survey has become the “gold standard” for measuring a church’s spiritual vitality. It’s readily available for those pastors and church leaders who are serious about making disciples who make disciples. Learn more here. In fact, NavPress just released a book reflecting results from 2,000 diverse churches across the nation that have taken the survey. It’s called RISE: Bold Strategies to Transform Your Church.
 
On my desk is a copy of RISE, which pastors and lay leaders will find inspiring and insightful from cover to cover. I’m encouraged as well by the last page, which points readers to Navigator Church Ministries as an ideal next step. It includes an illustration of our GiDC process, our Growing intentional Disciplemaking Cultures initiative (with a lowercase “i" to draw special attention to the word intentional) that’s designed to spur spiritual growth within the church.
 
As Pastor Hybels realized, spiritual growth doesn’t just happen. Pastors and church leaders need to put themselves in the very best position for the Holy Spirit to work in and through their congregations. As a Nav Rep with NCM, I count it a privilege to walk alongside such church leaders toward growing intentional disciplemaking cultures—that is, unpacking the illustration in RISE and also here.
 
In fact, after I co-taught NCM’s “Discipling Others” seminar to a group of pastors and lay leaders in Centennial, Colorado, last year (find that story here), a member of the Adult Ministries Team at First Evangelical Free Church in Colorado Springs asked me to begin the GiDC process with the team.

With the full blessing of Senior Pastor Rob Caminiti, this has been a key initiative of mine in 2015. As August came to an end, we finished the first major portion of this process. AMT leaders came up with four distinct next steps toward developing an intentional disciplemaking pathway at the church, and they also provided some encouraging words.

“We needed help to change the concept of church—to be the church, not go to church,” says AMT member Kathy Burmeister. “I truly appreciate and value everything I have learned. I believe God’s empowering Spirit combined with Navigators’ Scripture-based tools and decades of wisdom has given us concrete steps to take.”
 
“It has been a passion of mine for the past seven years to see this happen,” says Lea Ann Brookens, who originally asked if I’d help “develop a disciplemaking pathway” at the church. “I rest in the seeds that have been planted and pray that this developing pathway will guide FEFCers in their newly formed mission statement, ‘To make, mature, and multiply followers of Jesus Christ among all people’ who live out the Great Commission spurred on in this developing culture of disciplemaking.”
 
The GiDC process has been “an answer to prayer,” adds Mark Bachman, elder and AMT leader. “I believe the Lord will do great things through the Growing Disciples Life2Life ministry for both our church and for the body of Christ in our community. We must be obedient to the Lord’s plan for HIS church and, as leaders, help create a culture that reflects HIM rather than us.”
 
Let me encourage you to consider your church. On a scale of 1 to 10—from not at all serious about disciplemaking to disciples making disciples as the norm—assess your congregation. Are you above or below the halfway mark? How might God use you to help move that number toward a 10? 


To learn more about Dean and Kim’s Navigator ministry, please click here. For a staff guide of Navigator Church Ministries staff across the nation, click hereOr email Dean here if you’d like to process the possibility of your church becoming all the more serious about disciplemaking!

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