The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) and
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) recently partnered to sponsor
a panel discussion about what it means to engage in missional discipleship.
Panelists included: Andy Hughes, pastor, Journey Church of
the Highlands; Sean Cordell, pastor, Treasuring Christ Church; Winfield Bevins,
pastor, Church of the Outerbanks; Nathan Akin, student development liaison to
churches, SEBTS; Alvin Reid, professor of evangelism and student ministry,
SEBTS; Brian Upshaw, church ministry team leader, BSC; Mark Liederbach, vice
president for student services, dean of students, SEBTS.
The discussion began with each panelist speaking briefly on
a topic related to discipleship, and then the panel fielded specific questions
from the audience about discipleship.
Here’s a look inside at some of the Q & A:
Q: How can churches turn existing ministries into
Liederbach: “Southern Baptists have primarily thought of
discipleship in terms of ‘pulpiteering.’” When this happens, leaders are
“stealing from our people the life-on-life relationships.”
While Southern Baptists have been known for their programs,
programs are not to blame for the lack of discipleship in churches. Pastors
must be taught how to shepherd their people and must learn that discipleship
does not happen just because the pastor preaches discipleship from the pulpit.
Upshaw: “I’ve seen small groups in homes become programs.”
Even ministries that start out as gospel-centered can very
easily become programs that do not have transformed lives as the measure of
success. Pastors and leaders can use existing ministries as platforms in which
to build relationships, which in turn will encourage discipleship.
Cordell: Don’t let Sunday School become another “preaching
Although teaching and preaching is certainly valuable and
necessary, it cannot, on its own, produce disciples. Use Sunday School or small
groups as an opportunity to let people “get into your life.”
Q: How can pastors and leaders involve their congregation in
Reid: This generation is one that wants to be involved in
missions and mercy missions. Help them get their hands dirty.
Akin: Give them areas of responsibility and let them have
opportunities to lead.
Cordell: People are drawn to something bigger than
themselves. Show them Jesus Christ, who is superior to all things.
Bevins: Give them ways to engage in missions other than just
on Sunday mornings. “Go where they are — that’s what Jesus did. Maybe you need
to schedule office hours outside the office.” Instead of blogging about being
missional — go out and be missional.
Q: What do we do if we do not use specific curriculum?
Bevins: Consider using small group or Sunday School time to
go back and discuss material from that week’s sermon. Teach and train your
leaders in how to facilitate discussion of a text.
Upshaw: Make sure you equip your leaders theologically and
not just pragmatically.
Q: How do we measure the purity of our members?
Reid: You should be able to tell whether or not anyone would
notice if your church no longer existed. Ask restaurant waiters and waitresses
how your congregation is doing.
Talk about holiness. We are not having a lot of discussions
about holiness, especially among young people.
“The reason we’re not holy is because we’re not around
people who are hungry for it.” Believers must be intentional in engaging the
culture, building relationships with lost people and then sharing the gospel
with them. Belief in Jesus Christ comes first, and behavior change follows.
Upshaw: “We don’t ask about holiness — that’s part of the
problem.” We don’t have accountability. We need to confront sin and love the
Cordell: We need to warn people about sin and its
consequences, yet at the same time we need to speak about the beauty of
Q: Why are so many young adults leaving the church?
Upshaw: “What they see isn’t real.”
We are teaching moralism, but Christianity is not about
being good enough. We need to model Christ to our children.
Reid: “We are not raising them to think like missionaries.”
We have to stop treating them like kids.
The panel gave great attention to this topic, noting that
the problem is with the family and the church — it’s not one or the other.
Although parents are primarily responsible for the faith development of their
children, that responsibility comes within the context of their church family.
Parents cannot outsource their responsibility to the church,
and the church cannot expect parents to fulfill their role without coming
alongside and being willing to help. The church can help teach parents
practical applications, such as how to have a family devotional time.
Too often the church focuses on just giving youth events and
entertainment without ever teaching them what it means to follow Christ or
giving them opportunity to be involved in the church and in the community.
The panel encouraged those in attendance to make sure they
are involved in their children’s lives.
Schedules should never become so busy
that they lack time for family. Children and teenagers know what their parents
care about; they should know their parents care about both family and
To learn more about what it means to engage in missional
discipleship visit www.finditherenc.org.
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