ARKADELPHIA, Ark. – Second Baptist Church in Arkadelphia recently released a new discipleship plan for their church. Since the spring/summer of 2019, Pastor Louie Heard has been evaluating the church’s plan for effective discipleship.
Heard shared, “A strong discipleship plan doesn’t just pop up. It’s been a multi-year development in my own personal walk. Here is the critical question: what is our plan for discipleship? This was my question I asked myself. I went around and didn’t have a clear answer, and neither did our staff. We hadn’t really developed our plan for discipleship. I thought, if we are really about discipleship, we need a clear and strong answer. It really bothered me that I couldn’t personally answer that question for the church I was pastoring.”
Many ministers and church members would agree that discipleship is a good thing – something they would want to practice. However, many people neglect to participate in strong, effective discipleship. Real discipleship requires us to be faithful, available and teachable. It is a sacrifice of time. Iit involves us being vulnerable with certain people. But it’s worth practicing.
As Heard began to develop his church’s plan for discipleship, he looked primarily to the example of Jesus. “I started looking at other churches’ discipleship models, and most importantly, Jesus’s mode for discipleship. Jesus had a crowd, a cluster (the 12 disciples) and a core group (Peter, James and John). If Jesus took this model, there has to be a way we can do this within the church. This is Jesus’s model – all we are doing is using it for a 21st century model,” Heard said. As mentioned on their website, “Every active attender is urged to participate regularly in three strategically designed groups modeled after Jesus’ example.”
They presented this new discipleship model in a way that enabled people to grasp the new discipleship process. Heard also shared that providing graphics for people to see is very helpful.
In this new plan, they describe the three terms – crowd, cluster and core – as written below:
Crowd: The crowd is targeted to bring the entire church together weekly on Sunday mornings. The aim is to inspire worship, unity, and action through Spirit-filled preaching, music, prayers, and more.
Cluster: Cluster groups are about 5-15 people in size and meet weekly. They aim to build up your spiritual knowledge through biblical instruction in Christian community. Multiple groups are offered based on subjects.
Core Groups: Core groups are 3-4 people that meet once a month for one year. These groups address the need for deep, authentic connection. Each group is closed and meets off campus at restaurants, homes, parks, etc.
To view a detailed explanation of Second Arkadelphia’s discipleship plan, click here. Pastor Louie Heard also shared that anyone can contact him if they are interested in learning more about this process.