Creating a Discipleship Culture In Your Church

As pastors and ministry leaders we’ve been given the mandate from Jesus to go reach and make disciples! In this last era of the church God has stirred up fresh strategy and wisdom to excel in evangelism! The church had been deemed by culture as out of touch and “old school” but we’ve seen such a shift in the church returning to relevance and engaging culture in a way that they can receive the gospel and the response is obvious, as altars are full and many churches are consistently seeing their visitor and salvation responses increase!

And along with that salvation increase is the equal need to see the church respond with an effective discipleship strategy, which I believe is what God is really building throughout the church right now. Some of what we need is better strategy and some of what we need is a shift in church culture. In this post I’m going to talk about creating a culture for discipleship more than specific strategies. But I will mention quickly about my new believers discipleship resource called, Following Jesus, that my church in San Diego, and many other churches are finding helpful in their discipleship approach. Churches are using it as the gift when people come to Christ, within small groups, and some in discipleship course settings. To review go to:


Now, let’s talk about creating a culture and atmosphere where discipleship grows. When you’re working to become more effective at discipleship begin with what kind of atmosphere is required for discipleship to happen naturally.

When my family and I first moved to San Diego, CA to serve and base ministry with Ps Jurgen & Leanne Matthesius and the C3 Church family, there was something we noticed about the Spiritual maturity of the church. As we got to connect with each of our locations it became obvious that the average level of the spiritual maturity of the church was higher than you typically see in a larger church like this. The key to this discipleship culture was born in relationships.

A theme emerged in weekly staff meetings and various settings , “discipleship happens best in relationships.” While classes, groups or other settings can be helpful to facilitate discipleship, nothing can replace the power and impact of a church that is spending more time together. I know that may initially seem too simple, but when the culture of the church is to spend more together, then you’ll see discipleship happening more organically. You want your discipleship structures and strategies to help support what’s happening naturally within the relationships of your church family.

A few thoughts on creating this type of relational environment. First off, if you’re not naturally a “relational” person, don’t let yourself off the hook assuming that your personality type is an excuse for not building a relationship. Second, building relationally must begin from the top down. If you’re the lead pastor, don’t attempt to delegate relationships, this is one of those things that must be modeled. A practical way that this looks like is you cultivating friendships with your staff and key team. Follow this mantra:

Less meetings, more meals.

Watch The New E-Course on creating or fine-tuning the discipleship strategy at your church.

Yes, we need planning meetings and creative and strategic meetings, but your greatest leaders and creative ideas will flow more effortlessly out of a team that is enjoying the journey together. As a team, there are your weekly meetings to get into the details and just get stuff done. But then we have monthly gatherings with our core and lead teams that as much a party as they are a meeting. So, when we get the schedule for upcoming meetings, I’m stoked because there’s going to be great food, lawn games and hang time with our friends. As well as wrapping up with a time of vision and prayer. If you and your leaders are dreading meetings, it’s time to take a step back and focus more on house parties than office meetings. For the lead pastors or campus pastors, how often are your meetings at your home versus the church meeting room? And if the meeting has to be at the church, be sure there’s a lot of great food! Sharing a meal together is a powerful way to build relationships and community so that authentic discipleship can happen.

From there, the culture of relationships will flow more naturally if you and the lead teams are modeling genuine friendship. Then you can implement broader church relationships opportunities like a small group structure and other social settings. And not to sound to infatuated with food, haha! But, try not to gather without a meal in the mix! We also end our services by encouraging people to take someone out to lunch eat week to be sure we keep it a priority in our church as it continues to expand.

Click here: For more help with strengthening your churches discipleship culture and strategy.

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” —Matthew 28:18-20  (NIV)

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