A word about accountability — it’s the key component that differentiates learning from discipleship. Anyone can throw out a bunch of good ideas and truths in the hopes that some will stick. Be applied and make a difference in someone’s life. And indeed, many are with little results.
Discipleship is different from learning alone because it requires an answer. It asks not only if a student learned a concept, but if they followed it. Thus…
Teaching without accountability leads to overfed and under-exercised followers of Christ.
Discipleship should not just be an extra activity, but rather an integrated way of life that is sustainable — even if sacrificial — in the context where people live.
To see success in making disciples, it really comes down to just one thing that most churches aren’t good at — holding people accountable to do something with what they learned.
Accountability does not consist of a guilt trip, but of an intentional effort to encourage and support the disciple while holding fast with an expectation for an outcome. Essentially, it’s follow-up in a consistent manner.
It could be as simple as asking disciples to report on activities. Maybe it’s a regularly scheduled meeting with a leader. At best, it should include the exchange of ideas, frustrations, and successes with peers.
Anything you do in discipleship will fail without a documented and emphasized follow-up system.
Without a focus on multiplication, discipleship becomes a dead end. Sure, it’ll enrich the lives of the participants. And admittedly, those enriched lives will leave a mark on others and the world. However, if followers of Christ aren’t fully aware that they are growing so they can be going and they are receiving so they can be giving, their own lives will become their focus and their efforts will exist primarily to benefit themselves alone.
Because an emphasis on reproduction is so important, we recommend that every discipleship program starts with the end in mind.
When calling or inviting people to engage in making disciples, clearly state the goal that they are not being enriched in a vacuum. Rather, they are being built up to enrich others.
What you are doing is important. You’re not just helping people live better lives. You’re helping people live in a way that multiplies Christ-likeness beyond themselves.
Don’t diminish the value of the great work you’re doing. Don’t let up. And don’t get so internally focused that you lose sight of the very grand thing that God is doing in and through you and your ministry.
Discipleship is a lot of hard work, and it’s work that never ceases. That’s because it’s eternal.
Proceed knowing that the investments you make in discipleship will receive an eternal reward!
For more information on Discipleship and other Church Growth topics, please visit our blogs.
As the Vice President of Marketing for ACS Technologies’, John is responsible for Marketing’s overall corporate strategy and direction. Storyteller, promoter, problem solver to churches of all sizes and shapes. John has traveled the world working with prominent non-profit ministries. He also serves on the board of directors for Dayspring International.
New approaches to basic principles of discipleship