G2g: Identify the StartBy
Key principle #1 for moving discipleship from great to good: Start discipleship post-conversion.
After someone has made Christ their Lord, it is important to start teaching about who Christ is. Prior to that point, the person or group seeking to disciple at the status quo level of good should limit conversations and interactions with non-believers to evangelistic efforts. Many tools are available for the purpose including but not limited to the Roman Road, Four Spiritual Laws, Steps to Peace with God, the EvangeCube, Way of the Master, and a bevy of apologetic materials. Friendship combined with conversations about how Christ as Lord impacts family, work, relationships, etc. is risky or worse when maintaining the good.
In the realm of great, discipleship began at the very first encounter. Jesus stated, “You have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” As a result, the life He lived before his disciples, the way He interacted with them, the words He spoke to them were representative of God the Father from the very first interaction. Even during introductions, discipleship had begun. This was the great model. It took some time until we see recognition of Christ’s Lordship from his closest followers. But all this time He was lovingly, faithfully showing them the Father.
It is essential that pastors, leaders, and other disciple-makers intentionally clarify when they will begin discipling others. If discipling is to be done exclusively with pre-existing believers, the message may be a little bit less difficult to convey with a little less mess. This, realm of good discipleship, is effective when helping nice people become nicer. Tranformation in this strata is difficult to find as celebration may revolve around maturation. This progression of maturity, however, is easier to construct and oversee.
pastor as discipler
When leaders pursue replacing the great with the good, it will be helpful for each to clarify his or her role as one who works only with believers. In large churches this could be limited to working primarily or exclusively with other church staff. This helps promote the good of encouraging other disciple-makers to invest their time in those that already identify themselves with Christ. This will effectively help the church body be a nicer group of people. Additionally, if all disciple-makers in the church are seeking to work only with the redeemed, it will preclude the godless from being likely to come into the church which may even help reduce the amount of intensive discipleship needing to be done. Whether or not the pastor chooses to disciple and who he selects for this time investment will have major ramifications in the pursuit of the great or the good.
(In the excerpts from my non-book, Great to Good (G2g), truth or satire may be employed. At times, the two may even meet.)