Discipleship, Leader Development, and the Local Church

By jefflewis | church leadership

Apr 08

Discipleship, Leader Development, and the Local Church

Discipleship -Leader

Seemingly today, the local church is marked by growth without any serious depth. The ultimate thrust that remains will grow even wider and has never seriously been interconnected with the commitment to go deeper. This is shown by today’s local church model that is program-centered and extremely popular. However, within this, the strategic flow of the local church shows to be stunted as the goal is proving itself to merely be to make the existing programs grow larger and larger. In this, however, the greatest problem within the program-centered churches is that discipleship is promoted as just one of the many other programs. Accordingly, simply having programmatic discipleship and then something that resembles leadership development does not leave the local church with an efficient pool of human resources from which to draw from.

Leadership in today’s local churches today will obviously face various issues and challenges, but the top challenge and issue will remain in finding and developing leaders. Can you give them something biblical that they can use every day on their jobs and in life? In this, today’s churches seriously need to identify qualified candidates to fill current and future leadership roles, as well as develop a comprehensive leader development process.

In essence, the Leader Development process begins in the shallow end and continues through the deep end of the church’s discipleship pool, or at least it should be. However, I am finding that more often than not, local churches are both oblivious to genuine discipleship and leader development, or they are not doing anything at all. Even more so, local churches are not really promoting and/or building from within. Of course, in this, most all Evangelical Christians have become notorious “course takers,” but all that is really happening is the transfer of knowledge and not transformational discipleship and transformational leader development. Continuous improvement is critical and replicating in key.

For the local church to be prepared for tomorrow, it must build disciples and leaders today.  Effective leaders that move forward in cultivating and developing the leaders of tomorrow will be moving forward in the process today. In the past, discipleship and leadership development was focused on only a few individuals in the church, those who would actually show up. Listen, if God is not bringing them, you won’t be able to build them.

Remember, the first-generation of discipleship and leader development systems in churches were highly effective in their age and culture, and were widely adopted, however, these are siloed, lack effective implementation mechanisms, and yet were eventually done away with for the next big thing in today's churches.

Churches do need a great process that is effective in consistently move people through the discipleship realms and into areas of leadership. You know, this includes allowing individuals to grow and apply these skills in the home and on the job, as well as in the church. When you look into this realm, this is a systems-enabled realm, no matter how you decide to chop it up.

Finding clear avenues unify methods of assessing and selection, execution, development of skills, and measuring the success of these are critical. Allow me to tell you something profound, local churches today can build robust and effective discipleship and leader development process without jumping on the next big thing or getting on the latest fad train.

Strategic Discipleship-Leadership Development can be deployed to extend these practices across the board toward all the individuals within each local body of Christ, as well as down into all levels of the community for overall transformational effectiveness. Remember, you cannot harvest year round. At some point you must select the plots, till the ground, water, and fertilize. Elements of a successful discipleship and leadership development process that uses and harnesses everything the Lord has given to the church to support processes and practices is key.

  Are you building disciples and leaders…

Or is your church still playing church?


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