To ensure that the harvest is preserved, local churches need a systematic discipleship ministry. Systematic means more than assigning spiritual guardians and hoping for the best. It means implementing an intentional plan to train every new member after baptism. Rather than baptism being the end, it becomes the beginning of a discipleship walk with Jesus. Here are seven keys to enliven the systematic discipleship ministry at your local church:
1. APPOINT a discipleship ministry leader (or a Personal Ministries leader or similar).
2. RECRUIT experienced and responsible members to serve as mentors to newer members—regular meetings can happen in personal or small-group settings.
3. FOLLOW a systematic plan to aid new members in establishing vital spiritual habits (daily prayer and Bible study, consistent attendance, regular witnessing, and so on).
4. PROVIDE ongoing instruction in areas such as the devotional life, church life, Christian lifestyle, and evangelism.
5. INTEGRATE new members into the life and ministries of the church while training the rest of the membership to befriend and pray for each newly baptized member.
6. PROVIDE leadership support—promotion, financial support, and participation.
7. PRAY for laborers and for spiritual growth through the new member discipleship ministry.
While this initiative may sound overwhelming, many resources are available to help this stage of discipleship growth. The Discipleship Handbook is a comprehensive yet simple-to-use resource for local churches that incorporates all of the seven keys to a systematic discipleship ministry. For more information on the “preserve” stage and the Grow cycle, visit https://grow.adventist.org/preserve/.