How can I as a church leader help cultivate a culture of discipleship?

  1. Structure your own weekly schedule to include time with younger Christians (breakfasts and lunches, running errands, regular sermon reviews, etc.).
  2. If you lead a literate congregation, ask the church for a pastoral budget for book giveaways. Have a stack of books in your office ready for spontaneous giveaways. Encourage people to read them and then call you to schedule a time to discuss the book.
  3. Look for ways to encourage the mature Christians in your congregation to meet with others (“Hey Joe, who are you having lunch with today?”). And look for ways to network church members with one another (“Hey Joe, have you thought about spending time with John?”). 
  4. Apply your preaching not just to individuals, but to the church as a whole. (e.g. “What does this passage mean for us as a church? It means we should be willing to encourage and correct one another.”) Look for ways to encourage discipleship and mutual caretaking through your sermon applications.
  5. Preach and apply the gospel. Rightly preaching the gospel should produce Christians that perceive their shared obligation to counsel and disciple one another based on their shared family identity in Christ. As often as possible, help the congregation to connect the dots between their profession of faith and the call to active love for one another.
  6. Offer adult education classes on discipling or counseling.
  7. Offer Sunday School classes on more specific topics like “Fear of Man” or “God’s Will and Guidance.”
  8. Use church membership classes to set the expectation of regular involvement in one another’s lives.
  9. Use the church membership interview to ask the candidate if he or she wants to be involved in a one-on-one discipleship relationship.
  10. Stock your church bookstore and church library with good resources on discipleship.
  11. Consider putting a CCEF booklet display in your church for featuring these very brief and digestible resources on a vast number of specific topics. If possible, offer these booklets for free.
  12. Promote and hand out these same books and booklets from the pulpit.
  13. As the pastor, model humility and inviting correction!
  14. Consider providing church small groups with recommended resources according to small group type, such as young married groups or singles groups.
  15. If resources permit, hire a full-time pastor who can devote himself to counseling.
  16. If resources permit, hire a woman who can devote herself to counseling and promoting discipleship among women in the congregation.
  17. Encourage church members to attend Christian Counseling Education Foundation (CCEF) conferencesand to make use of its online training courses.
  18. Offer a counseling training class for the members and/or small group leaders of your church. CCEF offers two excellent curriculaHow People Change and Helping Others Change. These user-friendly leader’s guides and workbooks make it very easy for pastors, lay leaders, and members to teach one another how to counsel the Word and how to better care for one another. (
  19. Read Paul David Tripp’s Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands.
  20. Encourage the individuals you are discipling for full-time pastoral ministry to read Ed Welch’s When People Are Big and God Is Small.
  21. Pray. Ask God to raise up elders, godly women, and mature disciplers within your congregation to help care for the sheep.

(This list represents the substance of the article “Twenty Ways to Cultivate a Culture of Counseling” by Jonathan Leeman and Deepak Reju)

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