For Lance Crowell, discipling new Christians isn’t optional. It’s essential.
Crowell, a church ministries associate at the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, has seen firsthand the benefits of disciple-making, having been personally discipled as a new Christian.
“Disciple-making was a big deal in my spiritual growth and maturation,” Crowell said. “Someone discipled me. That was a big part of my life.”
A new seven-session curriculum/resource published by the SBTC and co-authored by Crowell seeks to change how churches teach and view the subject of discipleship.
Called Rhythms: Spiritual Rhythms of Multiplying Churches, the free 67-page booklet teaches new and veteran Christians alike how the spiritual life is not one of simply learning more about God but also one of living that knowledge out.
Crowell said he and co-author Spencer Plumlee, senior pastor of Riverview Baptist Church in Osage Beach, Mo., wrote the curriculum because they saw a need.
“There is a lot of good curriculum out there for disciple-making—good robust theological curriculum. But one of the things that seemed to be missing in a lot of them,” Crowell said, “was more of an entry-level curriculum. … Theology is important and a necessary part of spiritual growth, but a lot of times we get people who know a lot about the Bible but don’t know how to live the Word of God out.”
The Rhythms curriculum gets its name from the musical term, Crowell said, noting that rhythm is the foundation of a musical piece.
Similarly, the Christian life is built off of various “rhythms” or foundations to the Christian life. Five of those are covered in the curriculum, which takes readers on a journey to learn more about their identity in Christ and their calling to impact the world for Christ.
Rhythms is broken into five primary sessions:
- Fellowship with God
- Fighting for holiness
- Impacting at home
- Impacting believers
- Impacting the lost
Plumlee, who formerly served as a college pastor in the Fort Worth area, said the vertical relationship with God “fuels” the horizontal relationship with others.
“We’re talking about investing in our families, investing in other families, and investing in the lost,” Plumlee said. “The reason this is such a passion for me is because I don’t think we really know what to do with people once they come to Christ. The goal is to move people to multiplication.”
Discipleship, Plumlee added, involves far more than teaching people about evangelism.
“It’s also about being a believer—you growing in your faith and trying to be more like Christ,” Plumlee said. “We really believe that is a neglected area in church life. If there is not something somebody has to pass on to somebody once they lead them to Christ, you really have a hard time seeing multiplication happen like you do in the New Testament.”
The best model for learning how to disciple someone, Crowell said, is Christ.
“When Jesus was discipling his disciples, he was teaching them about the kingdom of God and he was doing life with them,” Crowell said. “He was showing them how to live life. He was modeling for them the gospel.”
While Rhythms can be used with new Christians, it also holds value for some who have been Christians for year, he added.
“There are a lot of people who have been in church a long time and have never been truly discipled at all,” Crowell said. “They’ve never had someone walk them through how to live out the gospel in an evangelistic way, in a missional way, in a growing-in-Christ way, in walking in maturity.”
The book’s introduction notes that there are millions of Christians in the world today, but it all began with 12 disciples who “were obedient to take the gospel to the world.”
“We want to see multiplication be the end-objective of disciple-making, so that someone’s taking ownership of investing in others,” Plumlee said.
For more information and to order the book Rhythms: Spiritual Rhythms of Multiplying Churches, visit sbtexas.com/rhythms.