Why should a local church cultivate a culture of discipleship?
The members of a local church should cultivate a culture of discipleship because they want to:
- Obey Scripture. The Bible gives all Christians the responsibility of building up and encouraging one another in the faith (Rom. 15:14; Eph. 4:13-16). Scripture also commands older Christians to set an example for younger Christians in a way that enables them to imitate their entire way of life (Titus 2:3, 6-7; Heb. 13:7).
- Care for younger Christians. Like children, Christians learn by imitation (1 Pet. 2:21; 1 Thess. 1:6). Today many young Christians have never even seen a healthy marriage, or godly submission to authority, or sacrificial service at church. In order to mature, younger Christians benefit from seeing older saints live the Christian life, not just hearing about the Christian life.
- Promote unity. In a culture of discipleship, Christians come together to work out the kinks of the Christian life. They wrestle with hard doctrines together. They fight through trials and temptations together. They serve the church and evangelize the lost together. All this fosters a vibrant, tenacious unity.
- Train leaders. Through personal relationships current leaders can model godly leadership, train younger leaders, and identify new leaders as the fruit of their ministry becomes evident. In a culture of discipleship, leaders can be identified not just by their personality or native gifting but by their character and fruitfulness in ministry.
- Multiply ministry. In a culture of discipleship, people will be far more likely to equip others in areas they excel in. Faithful evangelists will raise up other bold witnesses. Prayer warriors will teach others to intercede. A culture of discipleship multiplies the gifts and ministry of the whole church body, not just the pastor or a few select leaders.