REFRESH: Discipleship, An Interview
The following is an interview with Jeff Jones, Pastor of Hilltop FWB Church in North Carolina.
Ransom: Can you define exactly what discipleship means in the context of the local church?
Jones: Discipleship is simply following the teachings, life, and aim of another person. Discipleship for the local church is teaching people to become more like Christ. Every church exists to 1) see people saved; 2) see them follow the Lord in baptism; and 3) teach them how the Bible says they should live.
Ransom: How important is discipleship and why?
Jones: Sadly, I am afraid this “third part” of the Great Commission is often left out of the plan of a church. We have a step-by-step process to help someone trust Christ. Then, everyone who is saved and willing to take the next steps follows this process. First, we want them in a one-on-one discipleship program. Men are trained to work with men and women with women. We use the book Simple: The Christian Life Doesn't Have to be Complicated by Rob Morgan. We encourage these individuals to take the “Essentials” class which takes place during our Connection Group time (Sunday School).
After they complete ten weeks in Essentials class, they meet in the pastor’s home and talk about different Connection Group classes. The final, and most successful way, we disciple lately has been through “D-Groups.” We encourage participants to use Robby Gallaty’s book Foundations, with five devotions each week using the HEAR journaling method. They meet with a small group once a week to review what was studied. Discipleship at Hilltop is completely focused on getting people in God’s Word. We firmly believe His Word works! The natural result is growing relationships with mature believers.
Ransom: What process do you use to develop leaders?
Jones: When someone trusts Christ as Savior, first, we connect them to one-on-one discipleship that takes place on Wednesday nights during the midweek service. We cover important areas new Christians need to know. Second, we have a rotating “Essentials” Sunday School class that explores the fundamentals of our faith and church doctrine. The lessons include: a) knowing you are saved; b) the importance and role of the church in a Christian’s life; c) practical Christian living; d) foundational things we believe and affirm as a member of our church; and e) practical information about what Free Will Baptists believe and general information about what believers should know about their church’s beliefs.
Ransom: What suggestions do you have for pastors developing a discipleship program?
Jones: The strongest thing I can encourage is the pastor be involved both in D-Groups and promoting from the pulpit how a new family can get connected. Nothing connects people to a church more than discipleship. I recommend producing material that answers what happens next? for visitors. We do this with well-designed printed information: connection cards in seat pockets and an electronic “connection” wall in our lobby. I want it easy to access, and I desire it be as impressive as possible.
It is so important to get the church on the same page. I never want our church to forget we exist to see people saved, baptized, and taught how the Bible says they should live!
About the Columnist: Dr. Brad Ransom is director of church planting and chief training officer for North American Ministries. Contact Brad: firstname.lastname@example.org.