Today I continue my 2013 Discipleship Interview Series with Jess Rainer. Jess serves as the Pastor for Administration, Discipleship, and Missions at Grace Church in Hendersonville, TN. He is also the co-author of The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation.
How would you sense if a church or ministry is straying from discipleship?
A non-praying church is a non-discipling church. If corporate and individual prayer is clearly visible, then there is a good chance discipleship is happening. Another indicator is if the church leadership is monitor the progress of discipleship. If there are no systems in place to be able to tell if the church is growing in discipleship, then most likely there is no discipleship occurring.
In terms of discipling new believers, what is of chief importance?
One of the shifts I have enjoyed seeing churches make is emphasizing the totality of Scripture. Too often, new believers have such a limited view of Scripture. While it is not expected to know the entire Bible, there are abundance of resources that can help new believers understand their place and role in the grand narrative of Scripture. For a new believer, it is important for them to know what a proper relationship with Christ looks like. The foundational spiritual disciplines, such as prayer and Bible reading, will naturally begin to take place.
How should a ministry define success in terms of discipleship? What does winning look like?
Gospel sharing. There should be a clear connection between the disciple-making process and the gospel being shared. The easiest way to track successful discipleship is the number of new believers resulting from individuals sharing the gospel. A more detailed tracking system will take into consideration how many gospel presentations are made from individuals. Other considerations of success should include, but not limited to, corporate worship attendance, daily prayer time, and daily Bible reading.
How can technology help or hinder discipleship?
One of the best ways technology can help discipleship is for evaluation of the disciple-making process. Individuals that are able to monitor their personal growth and church staff that is able to monitor the entire church’s growth through technology will often find more success in discipleship. A danger of replacing face-to-face time with technology is that the personal touch of discipleship is lost.