Establishing a strong culture of disciplemaking requires some digging in the soil of a church. Many times while digging for something, we find things we didn’t expect to find. Digging then becomes like a treasure hunt. Sometimes we discover objects in the soil that we didn’t know existed. At other times, when digging deeper, we may encounter perhaps a hard, solid rock or pieces from the foundation of a home. Whatever the case, digging is very similar to going on a treasure hunt. You never know what you will find.
Exploring a church’s disciplemaking history is like a treasure hunt. The potential discoveries are limitless. All kinds of things will surface: spiritual disciplines that were practiced, Bible study curriculums, names of people who made a difference in advancing the kingdom of God, and even the church library. Determining what to keep is sometimes a problem.
Treasure Hunting Starts by Asking Questions
Asking good questions is essential in finding the unexpected treasure. Consider asking church leaders the following:
- How were disciples of Christ made among adults, children, and teens?
- What materials have been used? What are the results of the materials used? Are those results prevalent today?
- Who did the discipleship training?
- Who were the people involved in the discipleship process? Are they still around? Were they passionate about making disciples of Christ?
- Is there evidence that the process made a difference in people walking with Christ up to now?
- Is there evidence that the church values discipleship?
Asking good questions produces a good start. Many questions can be answered by looking at the bookshelves in the church’s office or even in the pastor’s office. Depending on the age of your church, the older your church, the better your finding of invaluable treasures will be. A curious mind will take you far. Be on the lookout for surprises as you explore, seek, and find treasure in asking questions.
Use Your Treasures to Build Your Culture
If you find hidden treasure, consider embracing or resurrecting the find, for it could make a difference in building a solid disciplemaking culture. Many Bible studies from the past contain good, solid content but they may need to be updated with relevant examples and illustrations. The Design for Discipleship Bible study series started with The Navigators in the early seventies. The cover, illustrations, and graphics have been updated but fifty years later this time-proven series is still transforming lives.
What a Find: Discovering Spiritual Generations
Looking into a church’s history may also reveal the spirit of the people, both past and present. Hebrews 12:1 refers to these people as “a cloud of witnesses.” These witnesses can also be referred to as models. Many of the “cloud of witnesses” have left a great example in the church on how to follow Christ and to live for Him. Find out whether any of their stories have been recorded via videos, books, church histories, and so on. If some are still living, arrange a time to interview them and discover some of their faith stories. Look for the triumphs, trials, defeats, and even the disappointments they had: all are valuable lessons for us in following Christ.
Look for spiritual generations. Psalms 78:4 says, “We will . . . tell to the coming generations the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might, and the wonders that He has done.” Find out what has been passed down generationally. Find out how faith grew throughout the generations. Find out if any of those generations are still around and what impact they are making on the church, the city, the state, the country, and around the world. Be curious to find the hidden treasuries within families. They may not pop out at first, but they are there to be found.
Digging into the history of a church for hidden spiritual treasures can be fun and exciting. In fact, it can be an adventure if approached with an open mind. You might discover treasures that God has been revealing all along to bring you to this point of discovery. Now is the time to incorporate what you have discovered. God is giving you an invitation to work alongside Him as He reveals the gems of His story as you build your culture of disciplemaking.