This trend has certainly been around for years. Growing up, almost every Southern Baptist Church utilized dated curriculum in Discipleship Training published by the Baptist Sunday School Board. Today, churches use a variety of resources from an array of publishers.
Lots of great resources are available. Tonight, I will host a webinar on a resource written by Dr. John Powers and edited by Larry Garner of Church Ministry Dynamics, called I Believe: Bridging Belief with Behavior. This is a great resource on Doctrine. On Thursday and Friday, I will be attending the annual meeting of the Baptist Association of Christian Educators, where Lifeway Church Resources, Zondervan, B&H Publishing, Navpress, and Clarity will all be displaying the great resources they have for discipleship. My wife is involved in a Bible Study on Monday nights with one of Kay Arthur’s studies from Precept upon Precept Ministries. On Saturday, the TBC will host a conference on the Truth Project, from Focus on the Family. Many TBC churches offer DivorceCare and Griefshare from Church Initiative. This illustrates what a wide variety of legitimate options are available.
What resources and publishers should you utilize in your discipleship ministry? First, as a Southern Baptist, a church can never go wrong using a resource published by Lifeway. These resources will be doctrinally sound, age appropriate, Biblically based, and support the ministry of the convention. One of the new emphasis that I am excited about from Lifeway is the Read the Bible for Life Material. I hope every TBC church will consider this emphasis in the fall and in 2012. Second, research the author and the publisher. Investigate rather the resource is doctrinally sound and Biblically based. The resource should also be age-appropriate. In other words, do your homework.
How do you keep from just offering a variety of classes and fail to achieve balance? In my last blog post, the need for balance was highlighted as essential ingredient to a healthy discipleship ministry. This trend of using a variety of resources has contributed to this lack of balance. When churches utilized dated curriculum such as Baptist Adults, the units of study are design to provide a balanced approach on doctrine, church history, polity, and personal disciplines. Four thoughts:
- Every church should have a Core Curriculum that will cover what the church believes, what it means to be a Christian, how to foster spiritual disciplines, how the church does it work. Smaller churches can use a one on one approach to teach this material.
- In a program based discipleship ministry, the pastor, discipleship training director, or minister of education should develop a track system and insure that classes are offered in each track each year.
- In a process and people based discipleship ministry, members should be encouraged to take spiritual inventories and set spiritual goals. These goals become the basis of your discipleship ministry to help them be balanced, healthy Christians. In addition to classes, mentoring, coaching and accountability groups could be incorporated.
- Lastly, provide a strong Sunday School Ministry where the Bible is taught on Sunday morning and members are connected to a group to encourage them in their walk.
Discipleship is hard work, but it is the most important work that you can do. Make a commitment to not just offer classes because you like a resource but develop a plan for disciple-making.
If you do find a great, doctrinally sound, Biblical based, age appropriate resource, let me know so that I can share it with others.