The challenge with discipleship is that everyone has their own idea of what it is. What you think of, when you think of discipleship, will inevitably skew the way you practice it. If you were discipled by reading through a book with a leader and discussing the chapters, then you might emulate that in your leading. If you attended Sunday evening discipleship classes where you were taught theology, you might try to do the same in your church. Perhaps you were discipled one on one. Maybe you were never discipled at all (welcome to the crowd). So when we talk about discipling our staff, we must first define discipleship. At Replicate we have formulated the following definition of discipleship;
“Discipleship is intentionally equipping believers with the Word of God through accountable relationships empowered by the Holy Spirit in order to replicate faithful followers of Christ.”“Discipleship is intentionally equipping believers with the Word of God through accountable relationships empowered by the Holy Spirit in order to replicate faithful followers of Christ.” Click To Tweet
While this is a lengthy definition, each component is necessary. Look at some of the keywords:
- Intentional: Discipleship does not happen on accident.
- Believers: You cannot disciple the lost – you evangelize the lost and disciple believers.
- Word of God: God’s Word is primary to any true discipleship.
- Accountable relationships: Accountability is, and it happens through a relationship.
- Holy Spirit: We do not change anyone or grow anyone – the Holy Spirit does.
- Replicate: The goal is multiplication.
- Faith followers of Christ: We aren’t trying to multiply a process, but Christ-followers who will go and do likewise.
With this definition in mind is we want to provide a simple template you can adapt and use to disciple your staff.
While it is tough to carve out extra meetings in our already busy lives, discipling your staff should be a priority. Our method has been to start our weekly staff meeting with the discipleship components. This way we have the time needed, and we know we will do it rather than put it on the back burner. If the staff meeting is not a place you can make it happen, find another time, like a lunch or breakfast meeting to be consistent.
We start our weekly meeting by sharing our memory verse with one another. If there are several people, we share with just one other person as the meeting begins or shortly before. It might surprise you how little Scripture staff members have committed to memory. Encourage this practice but do so with grace and the goal of helping each other succeed, not guilting each other when you struggle.
Share highs and lows of the week
Commit a few minutes to let staff share something good and something challenging that has happened this week. Often this can be ministry related but don’t limit the sharing to ministry only. Share one another’s wins and struggles in all areas of life.
Share the content of your time with the Lord
The easiest way to do this is to get everyone on the same reading plan. We suggest the Foundations 260 Plan you can get for free at replicate.org. But any plan will do. It is even more powerful when it correlates with the sermon for greater depth and application in the lives of the staff.
Speak into the staff
As the leader, lead well through each of these elements. This critical time together will build a stronger relationship with those you lead and help you nurture spiritual growth in their lives. Seize each chance you get as staff share, to help them, learn from them, and encourage them.
Often we start and end our meetings with prayer. Keep doing that, but also look for moments to stop and pray as people share. If, during the highs and lows, someone shares a challenge or a win, stop and pray together for that issue. Ask the staff to pray for you as well. This an excellent way to humble yourself as a leader and encourage those you lead to join you as you in your pursuit of Jesus.
In a staff environment, it can be a challenge to ask specific accountability questions. Specific accountability is something you want to do in your discipleship group rather than in a potentially gender mixed staff environment. But you can give your team the chance to speak into each other’s lives honestly. Give feedback on other ministry areas – including yours. Accountability shouldn’t just be about your numbers report from Sunday. Help your staff speak into one another’s lives as they grow.
Discipling your staff is not rocket science, but some key elements will help the process. You may choose to do some or all of the steps in the model above. Regardless of what you decide to do, take action and do something to disciple those you lead. Stewardship as a leader of leaders is vital if you want to see a more significant impact in the ministry, church, and community for Christ.