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We Had A Great Easter, So Now What?

April 11, 2023
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Hopefully your congregation had a wonderful celebration of Jesus’ resurrection last Sunday! And hopefully you had some newcomers visit for Easter. If you did, I’m sure some of them were relatives of members who come every year for Easter but usually don’t come back until next year. Some were probably Anglicans checking you out or who are from out of town. But, hopefully, some were unchurched people needing to come into relationship with Jesus for the first time. Hopefully, they heard the Good News of God’s Kingdom come and were invited to be saved and to come back to church to become Jesus’ disciples. If so, great! 

So now what? What is your plan to follow up on that invitation to them? What is your congregation’s plan to assimilate them into the church and actually make them Jesus’ disciples?

One of the glaring problems that was especially exposed in 2020 was the lack of adequate spiritual formation, or discipleship, in most churches. And not just in Anglican churches, but across denominations. I’ve been on many Zoom meetings with church leaders where someone points out that we, the church, have not done a good job of discipleship and every head on the call nods in agreement. A major concern is often the lack of a well-formed Biblical worldview in many believers, but the main critique is that many churched people haven’t been equipped to be the kind, loving, and missional Christian today’s culture desperately needs. 

Years ago, in what many now refer to as “Christendom” here in America, a lot of people were being raised in homes where the Christian worldview was dominant. That is probably true for many of you reading this. In that context, a lot of Christian formation took place in the home, so the local church simply had to supplement that formation with Sunday School, youth groups, and occasional classes (like for Confirmation). Adult discipleship often may have not been much more than helping make Anglicans out of Christians who came to us from other denominations. There was very little, if any, training on being transformed in every way to be like Christ (including how to do evangelism and local mission). Some churches did “outreach” that was often serving only material needs without the goal of sharing the Gospel. In reality this was not any different than what a secular service organization, like a Rotary Club, would do.

What we need now is a new reformation involving the rise of local churches as the primary means by which the culture around us is transformed for the Kingdom of God. The government won’t and can’t do it. God can do it, and he’ll do it through the Church. Therefore, we need every church member to become a missionary and every consumer Christian to become a contributor. But that won’t happen by accident. It will take church leaders, clergy and laity alike, developing and deploying processes of discipleship in their local church that actually “make” disciples that “obey all” that Jesus commanded, as he instructed us to do in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20).

Now, I don’t know any church leader who thinks that fulfilling the Great Commission and making more new disciples of Jesus is not a major part of what we’re supposed to be doing as the church. Yet many Anglican congregations have no clear plan on how they will make disciples in their church. Yes, there are some Bible studies and other classes that impart knowledge about God but don’t necessarily help members to know God. There are likely some small groups and confirmation classes, but as to having a well thought through clear and doable pathway for a brand new Christian – like the ones who will hopefully be in your church after last Sunday – to follow in order to be formed into a fully matured missional follower of Christ, not so much.

So you had a great Easter Sunday, now what? How is this need for having a clear process and plan for making disciples going in your congregation? For those who might have become new believers in your church this Easter, is it clear how to join and be a part of that discipleship process? We’ve been talking about this important need for many years in our Diocese so many of our congregations have worked on this. However, many are still struggling to implement it. So again: how is your process for making disciples going in your congregation? 

If it is well-developed and going great, fantastic! I would love for you to share your process with me if you haven’t already, so I can pass it on as an example to churches who are still working on their plans. Please email me at the address below with a brief description of your discipleship pathway.

If your church does not currently have a well-formed plan, what clear and doable process could your church develop and deploy this year? Whatever plan you come up with should move people intentionally and incrementally from being a brand-new believer to a fully mature missional follower of Jesus who tries to do everything He commanded them to do every day! If you’re not sure where to start, or would just like someone to talk over ideas with, or need more information about this, send me a message and we can schedule a call.

Lastly, if you think having a process like this to make disciples is somehow too programmatic and not spiritual enough (or something), let me just encourage you to rethink that. Jesus had a plan and process with his disciples. He had a plan over three years where he moved them from the low commitment “come and see” (John 1:39) to the high cost of “come and die” (Luke 9:23). If your church has a plan to move the people who ‘came and saw’ this Easter into people who have fully surrendered their life to Jesus and serve him in the church and the world, you’re in good company!

God bless you and I hope to hear from you soon either about your churches’ disciple-making process or to talk about how to help you develop one!

Header/Featured Photo Credit

Johannes Plenio (Unsplash )