Hold the Line: The Difficult Battle of Helping an Older Church Transition into a Disciple-Making Culture

by Brandon Werner - Executive Pastor | Western Hills Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, OK

When I was a kid, my parents didn’t allow me to watch “R” rated movies. That is, until they decided I would benefit from the story and history captured in Mel Gibson’s The Patriot.

The film is set during the revolutionary war. At the end of the movie, Gibson’s character, Benjamin Martin, had risen through the ranks and was now a leader of the United States militia. Gibson’s troops lined up against the Red Coats for battle. As the battle approached, the lines of the U.S. militia and their allies began to falter. Soldiers began to retreat. The line was falling.

Suddenly, in the midst of the retreat, Gibson’s character picks up the American flag, hoists it high in the air, and starts to run straight at the lines of the enemy. As he charges, he holds his head up high and shouts with all his strength, “HOLD THE LINE! HOLD THE LINE!”

Other men – allies and brothers in arms who had been fighting side by side together – saw Gibson turn. As their leader rushed by, their own feet began to shift. Before long, they were right on Gibson’s heels. The tides of the battle shifted again. The men were emboldened to fight. At great personal cost, each turned to the aid of the other. Together, they held the line.

To stay the course as a disciple-making first church, we must hold the line.

Holding the line is always difficult. Every organization tends to drift. Holding the line is especially difficult for pastors leading older churches to transition into a disciple-making first culture.

If you are leading a Discipleshift in your church, how do you hold the line?

1. Put the First Thing First
In disciple-making culture, we often say that “disciple making is better caught than taught.” When Jesus was calling some of His first disciples, He invited them to “come and see” what He was up to (John 2:38-39). Disciple making is not best transmitted in a classroom, through a book, or in a lecture. For you to hold the line and lead the Discipleshift in your church, you must be the first to lead the way by your example. Disciple-making must be a personal conviction in your life.

2. Lock Arms with other Leaders
To hold the line in your church, you need to secure help and support from leaders of other churches who are leading disciple-making culture in their own churches. These leaders are facing similar challenges, obstacles, discouragements, and breakthroughs right along with you. In the Relational Discipleship Network (RDN), you can find these leaders in your micro-coaching group, at The Gathering in Post Falls every year, at DS1 trainings, and through other opportunities in the network. Find them and lock arms together. Disciple making is a team sport.

3. Raise Up Leaders in Your Church
When Gibson’s character turns, the first men to notice are other leaders who shared a strong bond with Gibson. When they noticed, they also turned to fight, and they called on others to join them. If you are going to hold the line in your church, you must identify, equip, and release new leaders. Make a list of the first few names of potential relational disciple-making leaders that come to your mind. Develop a plan to meet with them and recruit them. Get them connected to your group. Help them through important trainings like DS1 and the Real-Life Discipleship Training Manual. Learn and practice the seven essentials for developing disciple-making culture by reading Brandon Guindon’s book Stay the Course. Check out other great books and resources recommended by the RDN and by those in your micro-coaching group. Most importantly, live out disciple-making culture in your own life and create a culture where you all expect the others to do the same.

When our church started to make this shift a little over ten years ago, one of the most comforting phrases I heard was, “slow is fast and fast is slow.” Creating disciple-making culture does not happen overnight. Put the first thing first. Lock arms with other leaders. Raise up leaders who will fight with you. Because of who Jesus is in you, you have what it takes. HOLD. THE. LINE.

 

Would also recommend hyperlinks to buy the books listed as resources in this article.

by Brandon Werner- Executive Pastor
Western Hills Baptist Church
Oklahoma City, OK

 

Blog Post Resources:
Link for Movie Clip on YouTube:
(13) The Patriot (6/8) Movie CLIP – No Retreat! (2000) HD – YouTube

DISCIPLESHIFT TRAINING

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Get a renewed desire to make disciples and learn how to create a culture that does the same.

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