Pastors urged to emphasize making disciples
February 14 2003 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Pastors urged to emphasize making disciples | Friday, Feb. 14, 2003
  • "Discovery groups" introduce people to what it means to follow Jesus.
  • "Accountability groups" are for people who have made a profession of faith in Jesus but know little about what following Jesus involves.
  • "Ministry groups," such as the church's praise team, meet not only for rehearsal but to study scripture.
  • "Life groups" study how to live as disciples.
  • "Recovery groups" are support groups for people who have issues they need to get past.

    Russell said his church has tried to follow the "law of wing walking," which says, "Don't let go of one thing before you have a firm hold of something else."

    "You can have parallel structures," he said.

    Russell said churches should work on helping members who "get it" and understand what it means to be a disciple to become more active in the life of the church.

  • Friday, Feb. 14, 2003

    Pastors urged to emphasize making disciples

    By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

    LILLINGTON - Instead of having an encounter with a burning bush, many pastors today feel like smoldering tumbleweeds, drifting along in bondage, the pastor of a church that emphasizes disciple-making said.

    Ronny Russell, pastor of Mission Baptist Church in Locust and a discipleship consultant with the Baptist State Convention, led a breakout session on "The Disciple-Making Pastor" at a disciple-making seminar on Jan. 25. The seminar was held at Crossroads Church in Lillington.

    Russell's breakout session was based in part on a book he is writing tentatively called "Can a Church Live Again?"

    Russell has been pastor of Mission Baptist Church for about 28 years. About 16 years ago he led the church to become what he called a "disciple-making church." The transition started when Russell began to feel a "holy discontent."

    Russell said he felt burned out.

    "I had been the pastor who had been hired to do all the ministry and I was feeling it," he said.

    Russell began talking to members of his church and found out that others were also feeling the discontentment.

    "Deep down inside of me, I knew we weren't making a difference in the world," he said. "That's a hollow feeling."

    Russell said the church began to make "holy discoveries" about its role in fulfilling the Great Commission to go and make disciples. The congregation found out that methods that worked 20 years earlier were no longer effective.

    That led to what Russell called a "stirring of the waters." The situation was similar to the sick man waiting for an angel to stir the waters so he could get in and become well.

    Russell said churches who try to make too many changes at once can cause so much turbulence that the church will fall apart.

    The members at Mission Baptist Church then started counting the cost of change. One result was to start a worship service using contemporary music in 1997.

    "I contend (that) making disciples transcends all this stuff about modern and post-modern," he said. "If we're not making disciples in a modern church or we're not making disciples in a post-modern church, are we really being obedient to the Great Commission?"

    Churches must develop mental and spiritual toughness, Russell said.

    "That's a challenge to endure those hard times," he said.

    Church members will try to convince a pastor to "lighten up" and quit pushing them so hard, Russell said. Disciple-making must become a passion to the pastor.

    "I have this great fear that I'm going to revert to what I was," he said.

    Russell said churches should change their values before they try to change their structures.

    "One thing I have discovered is we don't have high commitment because we don't ask for it," he said.

    Russell said his church has built disciple-making efforts around a process developed by Bill Hull. The church offers three ways for its members to grow as disciples.

    "We encourage people to be involved in all three levels," he said.

    The first way is through groups of 70 or more. This offers celebration, unity and worship, but not much fellowship, Russell said.

    Groups of 25 to 40 people are organized into what Russell called "Adult Bible Fellowships." These groups, which meet during the time most churches hold Sunday School, do much of the church's outreach ministry.

    Smaller groups of seven to 17 people are intentional about "inreach," Russell said. These groups meet at various times during the week.

    The church has five types of small groups.

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    2/14/2003 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments
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