With the goal of helping West Florida churches strengthen their discipleship efforts, First Baptist Church in Chipley hosted the region’s first-ever Replicate conference.

Florida Baptist Convention West Florida Catalyst Lewis Miller said it was an opportunity to help equip churches to make disciples.

“My prayer is that the Replicate disciple-making conference was the beginning of a movement of churches across the West region for the encouragement of evangelism and discipleship,” Miller said.

Mike Thornton, associate pastor of Seagrove Baptist Church in Santa Rosa Beach, understands the critical role discipleship plays in the life of a believer, especially those who are new to the faith and needing direction on how to grow. Thornton recalled his own confusion as a new believer as he tried to understand what it meant to be a true disciple of Christ. He recalled being counseled to read a book or study through a workbook but he said both options left him confused.

“Discipleship in the local church in many cases has been relegated to a six-week book study instead of a process for truly helping someone know and live the Scriptures in everyday life,” he said.

Replicate Ministries, the brainchild of Robby Gallaty, lead pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church north of Nashville, Tenn., supplies churches and ministry leaders with practical and easily applicable discipleship strategies that can then be implemented in any church context.

Miller appreciated that the Replicate leaders were “real, practical and biblical” in their presentations.

Tim Coleman, senior pastor of The Point Church in Pensacola, said the Replicate team’s approach to discipleship was “refreshing.”

“Replicate is a great approach for starting discipleship groups in an expeditious manner while creating accountability and connection,” he said.

Miller said conference leaders shared that discipleship is “intentional, hard, messy and worth it.” They also laid out the characteristics of an effective discipleship group (D-Group):

  1. Missional (Acts 1:8) – God working in me and through me to meet the needs of others
  2. Accountable (Eccl. 4:9-12) – to be answerable to, or responsible for someone else
  3. Reproducible (2 Timothy 2:2) – you plant into the lives of others and they reproduce that into the lives of others
  4. Community (Hebrews 10:24-25) – Stirring each other up toward love and good works and standing together
  5. Scriptural (2 Timothy 3:16-17) – The Bible is the textbook for disciple-making

Miller said the conference was well received, with many participants already talking about implementing D-groups where they serve.

Thornton said it would be wrong to not take advantage of the opportunity to learn how to become better disciple-makers.

“The state convention has done an unbelievable job by offering this resource to us,” he said.

By Nicole Kalil, Florida Baptist Convention, May 11, 2018