REV DOTSON LIVE: Doing Discipleship Differently

By Junius B. Dotson

It happens in every church.

It happens when the business of doing ministry becomes the ministry.

It's when we believe the color of the carpet, the strength of our audio/visual system or tracking demographics – or even our events, programs and activities – become more important than our own spiritual growth and development. It’s when those things become more important than engaging people who are currently outside the church.

Recently, I visited the set of our latest short film from Discipleship Ministries called “Let Me Show You Something.” It is the second of our discussion starters connected to #SEEALLTHEPEOPLE, which I call intentional discipleship. This film explores the key to intentional discipleship, which is developing a discipleship pathway, a process or a system, that changes the fundamental way you “do” church.

There are several models or systems in Developing an Intentional Discipleship System: A Guide for Congregations, a free online book available at But it would be a mistake to just take one of those models and superficially add it to your church without starting with the “why,” and then addressing the culture of your church.

Just simply adding a model won't do. What I'm suggesting is that changing the culture is the strategy.

Just simply adding a model wont do. What Im suggesting is that changing the culture is the strategy.

Let me tell you about Dharmesh Shah, who is co-founder of HubSpot, a leading platform that specializes in customer relationship management, marketing, sales and customer experience. Shah says in his organization’s early years, they didn’t talk about culture or document it at all. They just built a business that he and others wanted to work in. That was great, he says, but the real return happened when they started getting more deliberate about their culture by writing it down, by debating it, taking it apart, polishing the pieces and putting it back together, again and again.

Changing the culture is the strategy – developing an intentional discipleship system to fundamentally change the culture of the local church from fixing and tinkering to relationship and discipleship.

When we do this, we do it not to simply fill our pews, but to live into the great commandment, to love God with all your heart, mind, spirit and soul, and to love your neighbor as you love yourself.

And to live into the Great Commission: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

I believe the results will be passionate followers of Christ, who are committed not only to their own spiritual growth, but also to helping others discover and follow Jesus. The result – the byproduct, the fruit – are vital, vibrant and healthy congregations.

But how do you change the culture of your church to stay connected to its “why” and to remain relentlessly focused on making disciples of Jesus Christ? Let me offer two principles.

But how do you change the culture of your church to stay connected to its why and to remain relentlessly focused on making disciples of Jesus Christ Let me offer two principles.

First, keep the end in mind. The essence of leadership is knowing the direction in which you desire to travel and being able to influence the hands and the hearts of others to follow you there.

The question we're trying to answer is, “What is our intentional plan of discipleship?” What is our process? What is our pathway? How do people grow and progress spiritually in this body of believers?

When members don't know what to do, they do nothing. Are we intentional about helping people develop a Godly vision for their lives? Are we intentional about helping people experience the nature of holistic salvation? Keep the end in mind.

The second principle is to take risks. Experience something. Try new ways to engage your community immediately. Please don't take a year to design your intentional process of discipleship.

Please don't adopt a we-have-to-get-ourselves-right mentality before thinking you can reach out to others, because, quite frankly, that won't happen until Jesus comes back. We have to build this bridge and cross it at the same time. The results may surprise you.

I want to offer this word of encouragement: God, by his mighty power and work within us, is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of – infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts or hopes.

Thanks for being a part of #SEEALLTHEPEOPLE. Go to to download the free book and learn more about how to be a part of this important movement.