In the previous blog, we noted that while it is easy to give lip service to the Great Commission as the mission of the local church, it is also easy to get distracted from it.
We saw that a disciple-making church is actually a Christ-centered church. Our goal is not so much size as it is health, and a spiritually healthy church will be centered around Christ and His mission.
In part 1, we looked at the following three characteristics. (If you have not had a chance to read the previous blog, I’d encourage you to read it quickly here before reading further.)
- A Christ-Centered Philosophy—Our goal to seek the lost and train disciples must be biblical and Christ-centered, not fleshly and ego-centered.
- A Christ-Centered Motivation—Any motive less than the love of Christ will be unsustainable.
- A Christ-Centered Approach—We must give consistent and thorough gospel presentations with purposeful and biblical follow up.
But what then? What is it like for a new Christian just saved through the ministry of a Christ-centered, disciple-making church? This is where the following three characteristics come in:
4. A Christ-Centered Environment
But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.—1 Thessalonians 2:7–8
A new Christian should be welcomed into a church that is intensely loving and fully Christ-centered. They need people who will come alongside them and point them to consistent growth in Jesus.
This is why at Lancaster Baptist Church, we place a lot of emphasis on the Sunday morning adult connection groups or Sunday school classes. These provide great opportunities for acceptance and growth in a setting that easily lends itself to both Bible teaching and relationship building.
It’s so important that young Christians be pointed to Christ and to His Word, rather than being surrounded by contentious, frustrated, bitter Christians. A new Christian needs time to grow and encouragement in grace.
5. A Christ-Centered Discipleship
And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.—Acts 14:21–22
Discipleship is not a series of ten lessons. It is a life-long decision of daily following Christ. The very emphasis of the word disciple—follower—suggests that our focus is on Christ, not on ourselves or others.
So at Lancaster Baptist Church, our goal in our discipleship curriculum is that we are pointing new Christians to Jesus through the series of one-on-one mentoring meetings. We want to help them establish a strong, daily walk with Christ and to become grounded in the foundational doctrines of His Word. In short, we want to point them to Christ—the living Word through the pages of His written Word.
6. A Christ-Centered Pulpit Ministry
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.—1 Corinthians 1:18
Biblical preaching is primary in discipleship. It is foundational for establishing doctrine, reinforcing doctrine, and encouraging the disciple’s faith and continued growth.
And this is not just true for new disciples of Christ. Preaching is vital for all Christians.
For these reasons, a disciple-making church has Christ-centered preaching. There may be illustrations, and there should definitely be applications. But the core message should always be the Bible—not opinion or fluff. When God’s Word is preached, Christ is exalted, for He is the living Word.
In part 1, I mentioned that a disciple-making church is a Christ-centered church. But the reverse is also true. A Christ-centered church will be a disciple-making church.
In fact, a church that is centered on anything or anyone other than Christ may produce converts, but it will not produce disciples.
From gospel-driven philosophy and motives to an others-focused outreach and church environment, to a biblically-grounded discipleship and pulpit ministry, it must all be centered around Jesus.
This is the kind of church that produces fully-committed followers of Christ.