Southern Baptist task force aims to create 'discipleship culture'

LifeWay Christian Resources' and the North American Mission Board's task force devoted to improving disciple-making met Oct. 17 at NAMB’s building in Alpharetta, Ga. (NAMB)LifeWay Christian Resources' and the North American Mission Board's recently-appointed task force on disciple-making met Oct. 17 at NAMB's building in Alpharetta, Ga. The group of 11 Southern Baptist pastors gathered to discuss their task of communicating that "any church of any background can be disciple-making," according to Chairman Robby Gallaty, pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn.

Gallaty began the meeting by asking what the "win" for the discipleship task force would be. Members unanimously agreed that success would be helping churches create a process to celebrate making disciples.

"We, as pastors, are seeing the lostness all around North America," Gallaty said. "It's all over social media. There appears to be a very shallow concept of Christianity, and it's sad to think about. But in order to understand how to disciple, we've got to understand the culture we're discipling."

The goal of the meeting was to find ways to help churches move closer to discipleship by creating a philosophy, mindset and change of culture. While task force members are not creating a curriculum, they are looking for ways to spark a disciple-making movement throughout the Southern Baptist Convention.

One priority the pastors discussed was the need for a holistic view of discipleship.

"We must understand that discipleship impacts all of life from our homes to our professions," said Eric Geiger, pastor of ClearView Baptist Church in Franklin, Tenn., and vice president of resources at LifeWay. "It's not only what we do at church."

In addition to Gallaty and Geiger, task force members include Adam Dooley, Sunnyvale Baptist Church, Sunnyvale, Texas; Johnny Hunt, First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga.; Paul Jimenez, Taylors First Baptist Church, Taylors, S.C.; Mark Marshall, The Glade Church, Mt. Juliet, Tenn.; Kevin Smith, Highview Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky.; and Pavel Urruchi, Erlanger Baptist Church, Erlanger, Ky.

The group agreed that helping churches with poor discipleship processes, or churches with none taking place at all, is a key to positive change. One of the ways the task force discussed accomplishing this is by homing in on language to use while helping churches understand the disciple-making journey and encouraging churches to be intentional in fostering discipleship.

"Discipleship is the effort to push back lostness, push back against the trends in a holistic way," Gallaty said. "It's the solution for everything we're talking about in the world today."

Geiger noted there is an "important need for churches to understand that pastors are not the only disciple-makers."

"All of God's people are called to make disciples," he said.

Task force members left the meeting with individual assignments on how to engage all Southern Baptist churches in their fundamental reason for existence—to make disciples.

NAMB president Kevin Ezell said the task force will present a report at the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix.

To learn more about the task force, visit makedisciplemakers.com.

Josie Rabbitt is a writer for the North American Mission Board.

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