Over the past seven weeks, we have heard from various pastors who have taken part or are currently in the Replicate Cohort. We have heard stories from these pastors about how a disciplemaking strategy started and took root in their churches. For more information about the Replicate Cohort click here: ( https://replicate.org/cohort2019/) – Tim.
David Cofield is the pastor of Rainsville First Baptist Church in Rainsville, AL. Rainsville is located on beautiful Sand Mountain in northeast Alabama. This Southern Baptist church celebrates 103 years of ministry and continues to exist to “glorify God by transforming lives through discipleship and the Gospel.” Discover more about the church at http://rainsvillefirst.com.
The proverbial adage, “You cannot lead someone spiritually where you have never been” is vividly true when it comes to the topic of discipleship. As a fifty-eight-year-old Pastor, I was never discipled through an intentionalmethod. However, after 35 years of pastoring, I sensed a need to seek the Lord’s will in regards to what the “legacy” I would leave imprinted upon others as I entered the final quarter of my pastoral ministry would be. This seeking led me in the year of 2014 to study discipleship, as a topic. The method of study was straightforward: read everything I could get my hands on that unpacked Christian discipleship. After almost a year of research, I believed the approach of Robby Gallaty and Replicate Ministries best suited my theological and practical approach. I was particularly drawn to their core belief that the only curriculum for a disciple is the Bible.
In 2015, God led me to Rainsville First Baptist Church, Rainsville, AL and during the search process, I revealed to the team what God was doing in my heart. I said that if God moved us to join them, discipleship would have to be a part of the ministry. He did in fact move us to Rainsville, and discipleship is in fact an integral part of ministry here at Rainsville First Baptist Church.
We followed the wisdom of beginning slowly and patiently waiting for discipleship groups to organically form, avoiding making a “public spectacle” of it. In January 2016, my wife started with a group of four ladies and I started with a group of four men. Following this, in the middle of 2017, those two groups replicated with God still organically growing the process. In January 2019, those second-generation groups replicated and today we have 99 persons involved for a 12-18-month process in a church that averages 325 people in Sunday worship.
So what is God doing here at Rainsville First Baptist Church? To begin with, the church has recently completed a 21-month thorough evaluation of the church’s ministries, schedule, and spiritual movement to track a direction for the future. Please consider just the testimonies of individuals who are experiencing the work of The Lord first-hand to gauge the direction in which Rainsville First Baptist church is heading:
A man who currently presides as an interim college president, and who has also been a member and leader in our church for 40 years (He is also an original member of my first-generation group) said, “Whatever the future of this church is, it must include discipleship if it is going to grow.”
A retired football coach and a leader in this church for 35 years disclosed, “These discipleship groups have been the best thing that has happened in my life.”
A college professor who drives an hour each day to teach in addition to being a wife and mother of four young boys said, “Discipleship is not an option, it is the product of conversion. It challenges every aspect of my life. It has worked. My crazy overscheduled life has been no match for God.”
As with every transition to replicate to a new generation, there is causes of turmoil with feelings of inadequacy and unpreparedness. However, despite the turmoil, within a few months these same individuals are testifying of the affirmation they have received from their new groups experiencing “the light come on for them.”
What is The Lord doing in and through Rainsville First Baptist church? It’s simple. No new programs, no new emphasis; just directing people into accountable settings for the reading of The Word, prayer, Scripture memorization and evangelism. Discipleship, it is working in Rainsville, AL. And I pray, a “legacy” is being established.