You’ve heard (and maybe said) things like “following Jesus isn’t just a Sunday morning event—it’s a year-round commitment.” But I’ve been challenged to consider what our ministry year subtly communicates to people. For example, is most of the church’s focus on sermons? Is programming aligned or disconnected? Do groups and ministries take entire seasons off, like summer? Are Bible studies open to whatever people are interested in at the time? These practical realities of a ministry calendar reveal an unspoken philosophy of discipleship.
I’d like to propose four steps toward year-round discipleship.
1. Have a plan. Be prayerful and intentional. Plan ahead and seek the Lord for direction. Know the needs of your people. Know the desires for growth of your people. Ask your people what they need. Be informed. Don’t just assume your impressions or preferences align with their reality or desires. The plan does not have to look the same every season; it may ebb and flow. Dial things up when new people are visiting seasonally. Scale back when attendance is lower. But don’t stop or hit cruise control. Stay intentional about moving people forward in their spiritual journey toward maturity and Christlikeness. Whether it’s a high season or quieter season, let your baseline be that people are needing and wanting discipleship and build a plan accordingly.
2. Provide connection opportunities regularly. Have at least 3 times throughout the year, if not more, for people to join a group. The goal is that no one has to wait a long time to get connected into biblical community. Most churches open groups in August or September and maybe again in January. We’ve seen that there is great opportunity to connect people after Easter and during the summer, too. Rooted is a proven and trusted resource as a clear “front door” to churches and small groups, instilling essential rhythms and providing a common language for your church. Be sure to introduce the core DNA of discipleship to new members and new groups early in their involvement.
3. Think “ecosystem,” not just entry points or even pathway. Once someone has connected with your church and a group, then what? Life is not always linear, so even if you have a plan for a “pathway” that progresses from one essential topic to the next, people never graduate from discipleship, so the essentials need to be consistently and clearly reinforced. In an ecosystem, each element affects the others—this is true of the spiritual life.
So, what is your working definition of a disciple? Do you have a clear definition? If so, do your people know it? Identify and reinforce essential rhythms for growing disciples. (Rooted introduces 7 Rhythms of a disciple) Whether you use Rooted Network resources or not, consistency is key. Use preaching/teaching, group study/discussion, church events, and other experiences to constantly grow people in spiritual maturity according to the rhythms characteristic of a disciple.
4. Use trusted resources that reinforce your beliefs and rhythms for the Christian life. While there are many trusted resources, Rooted Network distinctly offers group resources for holistic discipleship—each resource emphasizes spiritual rhythms and discipleship experiences that grow disciples who make disciples.
As you take these steps toward a more intentionally aligned, year-round discipleship culture, I believe you’ll see the difference it can make in the spiritual health of your people and the flourishing of your church!
We’re Here to Help
First, we want to give you a free leadership tool to think through your own ministry—our Year-Round Discipleship Assessment. Sign up for our email list (at the bottom of the homepage) to receive free leadership tools like that one and other helpful information, like our newest blog posts.
Did you know that we offer free coaching? We’d love to help you think through what a holistic discipleship culture looks like in your context and ways that specific resources and rhythms can lead to healthy and flourishing members, groups, ministries, and churches.
A great starting point if you aren’t yet familiar with Rooted is to see how it works.
Contact us to connect with a Regional Coach who will walk alongside you in building a year-round discipleship culture. No fee or pressure ever.