In a recent article for, Thom Rainer writes: “As we heard from churches across America, we began to see a common pattern in churches that were more effective in making disciples. The attendance rate of members of those churches was higher, and the dropout rate was lower.” Some of the common traits in such churches included:

The church has an entry-point class that all new members attend. Though these classes have different names, they have similar purposes. The classes provide information, but they aren’t limited to dispensing facts about the church. The classes also established expectations of members. Some of the expectations are noted below.

Members are expected to attend an open-group Bible study.
An open group is an ongoing class that allows entry at any point. Historically, they have been called Sunday School classes, but today they have a variety of names. The point is to get members connected to a common group of people in regular Bible study.

Members are expected to be involved in one or more deeper studies throughout the year. These classes are set for a predetermined number of weeks, susch as a 12-week study. They tend to dive deeper into Bible study, doctrinal study or studies of critical issues for the Christian. They also tend to be closed groups because attendance every week is important to grasp the material. It is difficult for someone to enter the class after it begins because the material usually builds on itself.

Members are expected to attend a corporate worship service each week. This is the time for the people to gather for the preaching of the Word and to worship the one true God together.

Members are expected to be involved in at least one ministry or mission activity a year. The church has clear expectations that members are to be involved in those activities that cause them to look beyond themselves and to care for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of others.

Members are expected to read and study the Bible daily. Our research has shown that daily personal Bible study is the clearest indicator that a Christian is growing spiritually. These disciple-making churches exhort, encourage and provide resources for the members to be involved in daily Bible study.”  (Click here to read the full article.)

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