5 Church Views of Discipleship

4) Groups

Because community is absolutely essential in the process of becoming more like Jesus, groups are important. All of the conversations about discipleship will lead wise church leaders to conclude that their groups must become more important. As the discipleship conversation escalates, so should the group conversation. But a key question for leaders is, “Are groups a part of your discipleship process, OR are groups your sole discipleship process?” Because a disciple serves, lives on mission, reproduces and worships, most churches will likely conclude that a group is part of a disciple’s journey and not the end.

5) Mission & overarching process

A church that embraces the reality that they are on the planet to make disciples views all they do through a discipleship lens. They view their worship gatherings, their groups, their service in the community, and their ministries to kids and students all as critical aspects in their “disciple-making process.” They haven’t reduced discipleship to an event, to a class, to something that is checked off a list. “Making disciples” is what the church is all about.

The dangerous downside of this view is that anything and everything can receive a “discipleship label.” Thus, we need leaders who constantly seek to shred anything that doesn’t help people in our churches become more like Jesus. C.S. Lewis stated it this way:

The church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons … are simply a waste of time.

Without clarity, leaders could be mentally seeing different pictures and hearing different definitions when they hear the word “discipleship.” Church leaders are wise to bring clarity to how their churches are designed to fulfill their mission of making disciples.  

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Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, he served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary and has authored or co-authored several books, including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. He is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.