Discipleship And Its Impact On Church Growth
This thesis researched the development and nurturing of discipleship in a small group setting as a way of building up a church with spiritual (qualitative) and numerical (quantitative) growth as one of the results. When considering church growth a small group ministry is an important alternative to the standard church practice.
Chapter 2 reviewed the purpose of the church, and explored the concept of building up the church using Biblical concepts as its basis for doing so.
Chapter 3 deals with the role of discipleship in building up the church and its impact on church growth. It also identifies the ministry of small groups as being the most suitable method to develop and nurture discipleship amongst members of a congregation. The ministry of small groups has a great practical potential for the church. It enables members of the congregation to identify and use their spiritual gifts and talents, and in so doing, discover their value and identity in Jesus Christ.
Chapter 4 documents the findings of empirical research conducted amongst three Nigerian Christ Apostolic Church that practice the ministry of small groups. The views of the three senior pastors were on the value of small groups were ascertained. This was followed by a detailed study, of the workings and effects of small groups covering 205 respondents spread across the three congregations.
Based on the findings of the research, chapter 5 presents a proposed plan to build up the church, encouraging church growth through the development and nurturing of discipleship through a small groups ministry. The study proposes a seven fold approach to the implementation of a small group ministry designed to stimulate spiritual and numerical growth through the development and nurturing of discipleship amongst church members.
1.1 Background to the Study
The call to discipleship involves Jesus’ unique invitation to become like Him (Luke 6:40) and to be a full participant in His mission. “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” links discipleship with carrying the good news to all (Mark 1:15,17; Luke 5:10), while the occasions on which Jesus sent the twelve or the seventy out in two’s (Mark 6:7-13; Luke 10:1-20) show that He expects disciples to be fully involved in service to others.
Discipleship is both personal and public. It is comprised of our private daily walk of prayer, fasting, worship, and studying God’s Word. These are all things that people don’t see us doing. Then there is the public part of witness, ministry, and serving. These are things that are visible. Some have called this our “journey inward” and our “journey outward.” Discipleship is both.
Discipleship in the church is a very important task of the church. It is the heartbeat of God and a basic necessity for a successful Christian life. The scripture revealed that Jesus called the twelve disciples from the beginning of His ministry. He taught them within a period of three and a half years. After the training and before the ascension to heaven, He commanded them to go and make more disciples from all over the world. Before then, He had already told them as follows: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, of the son, and of the Holy Ghost and teach them to obey everything I have command you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age” (Matthew28:18-20).
The great commission is all about making disciple. The command of God is not only to raise or make coverts of all nations. This is crucial indeed, most especially for believers who are the disciple today and the disciples of the youth. It is sad today that many churches are filled with overgrown the youth; this is why the church in this generation has not been able to make real impact on the society. No doubt, there are many church auditoriums where people congregate every with high frenzy and excitement but the number of disciple are infinitesimal….. A successful life is a fulfilled life; a fulfilled life is a life that pleases the Lord. The one who will please the Lord is one who has conformed to the image of the son of God (Romans8:29).
The effect shows the important of discipleship in the life of a Christians “Most churches grow by transfer”. The system of today is the rotation of the saints. To carry on with the work of His father, Christ had to commission his disciples, all believers inclusive. The numbers of real converts to Christ had to commission his disciples, all believers inclusive. The number of real converts to Christ by some “great churches is meager”, instead churches with strong preaching and music programmes attracts large numbers . Therefore people think that the church is great and the workers do the job. In reality, the church with the restaurants and theatres becomes the mega one because they entertain .
The relationship between the clergy and laity has become professional to that of performers and parishioners and audience, the better the show, the larger the crowd. All these show that outstanding performance attracts people. It means little more than that in no way does it faithfully reflect the priorities of Christ for His church . The lord said, ‘I go to conquer other worlds for my Father, so do a good job’
The crucial questions arises again, “who is a disciple”? A disciple is one who follows Jesus Christ. Being Christians do not make one a disciple, even though members of His Kingdom.
Following Christ means acknowledging Him as Lord; it also means serving Him as a slave, just as unbelievers serve Satan. It also means loving and praising the father. Perhaps, the biggest problem in the church today is lack of grounded Christian journey, only a few get plugged in all the way enough to where they mature in the faith.
Incidentally, many Christians are easily beguiled with words and in turn they indulge in philosophy being established in faith and the act of making disciple is a process of building up preparing and equipping the body of Christ. To advance His kingdom should be the primary focus of every believer who is a disciple indeed and wants to be a discipler.
The twenty-first century church need to live up to expectation, the new converts must be followed-up and taken through the Bible investigation class (B.I.C) as well as regular attendance of church service and mid-week activities to be grounded in faith.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Discipleship has become one of the greatest challenges facing the present day church. The believers service in today’s church no longer have much effect as expected in the life of growing Christians and the society. There have also been great deficiencies in the lives of those who profess to be members of the body of Christ producing much of unwanted characters and attitudes that makes one doubt if truly they are born again. This research work is therefore carried out with a view of examining the present structures of discipleship and its effects on church growth and makes suggestion as to raising the standard. The question the researcher needed to investigate and proffer solution to in this research work are:
- What are benefits of discipleship as a tool for church growth?
- What is the discipleship strategy of Christ Apostolic Church Oke Igbala Ketu District?
- What are the challenges of discipleship in Christ Apostolic Church Oke Igbala Ketu District?
- What are the challenges and activities of members towards the growth of the church?
1.3. The Purpose of the Study
- To examine the importance of discipleship programme in the growing of churches.
- To identify the roles of church members and leaders in discipleship ministry and growth of the church.
- To seeing our church growing in quality as it was in the time of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- To recommend to the church the biblical principles of discipleship as demonstrated by biblical leaders of various era.
1.4. The Significance of the Study
In spite of the proliferation of the church, there has been a great neglect of discipleship ministry of the church because most churches have replaced it with other activities, yet the church can’t grow properly without discipleship programmes that are based on the scripture.
The study will serve as a source of material for the seminaries and future research into area related to the subject matter.
This research work will help the church improve their discipleship programmes in growing mature believers.
The study will help the church to embark on using disciple as a tool for church growth.
1.5. Delimitation of the Study
This study is limited to discipleship and its impact on church growth. The study will cover Christ apostolic Church OKe Igbala, Ketu District will be interview.
1.6. Limitation of the Study
The limitation of the study involves some shortcomings, which were encountered in the cause of the research work. The limitation has to do with non- availability of money, time and difficulty in meeting the respondents during interaction with the Pastors and members of Christ Apostolic Church, Oke Igbala, Ketu District.
1.7. RESEARCH PROCEDURE
The main instruments used in carrying out the study were oral interview; the researcher conducted a survey of related literatures such as textbooks, commentaries, concordances, dictionaries, Christian Journals. The survey was done in the following libraries:
LIFE Theological Seminary Library Ikorodu
The researcher’s personal library and internet
1.8. Definition of Terms
It is a process whereby a converted person learns at the feet of Christ with the aim of practicing and doing what he learns until his lifestyle and habit conform to God standard.
Church simply means the body of Christ at work in the world where the idea and the functional meet. Without the “communion of persons” the institution has no divine power, and without the institution the communion has no means with which to minister to the finite, historically grounded world of persons.
This refers to the development of the church both numerically and spiritually.
Christ Apostolic Church:
The church is distinctly an indigenous African church by its structure belief and practices; it is an independent Pentecostal church.
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