Discipleship is central to the mission of First Baptist Church Opelika. Our overarching goal is that every member of our faith family goes into all the world as disciples who make disciples. We strive to do this by creating a discipleship culture that encourages abiding in Christ and obedience to Him. Creating a discipleship culture embodies many biblical principles, but the most important principle of discipleship is the primacy of our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In order to encourage every member of our FBCO family to prioritize his or her relationship with Jesus Christ, we ask all of our Sunday School teachers, Bible study teachers, and disciple makers to model a life which demonstrates a growing relationship with Jesus Christ that is strengthened by the word of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and lived out in all areas of life. The purpose of this brochure is to outline several principles of a disciple which should be modeled in the lives of all ministry leaders. These are the principles to which we encourage our ministry leaders to commit. In addition, all ministry leaders must be professing Christians who have been baptized by immersion and have either united with FBCO in membership, or in the case of college students, have identified with FBCO without transferring their membership from their home church.
Disciples in the early church loved to gather together in large groups. At FBCO our Sunday worship services are our main context for presenting biblical teaching from our Pastor or other ministry leaders; our primary opportunity to worship together; and a great environment into which we can invite family members, friends, neighbors and others who are not yet Christ-followers. Gathering together on a weekly basis is one of the primary means by which we grow together in unity, receive encouragement in our faith, and introduce others to the good news of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10.24-25). In the Bible, defining moments and catalytic experiences often resulted when large groups of men and women met together to celebrate God’s goodness, hear God’s word, and worship Him (Acts 2.41). As ministry leaders, we should model lives of devotion and faithfulness, especially with regard to corporate worship.
Believers in the early church regularly met together not just in large public groups, but also in smaller gatherings. (Acts 2:42, 46-47; 5:42). Both large, public gatherings and smaller, private gatherings play an important role in our lives as disciples. At FBCO we meet in small groups to encounter people with a presentation of the gospel; to edify people to develop a Christ-like personality; to empower people for meaningful participation in the local church; and to encourage people to discover their purpose in life. As ministry leaders we should faithfully attend a small group Bible Study in order to model our commitment to the above purposes. Small groups provide a context for discussing the Bible, sharing ideas, and asking questions. In addition, in a small group setting there is ample opportunity to minister to one another through prayer, encouragement, and the giving of counsel. Small groups create a context in which genuine friendships can be developed. We all benefit from the accountability a small group provides as we open up our lives to others and allow them to both challenge and encourage us.
As believers we should develop and cultivate a personal relationship with God. Reading the Bible and praying daily are two of the main ways we develop this personal relationship. A commitment to the Bible and prayer is emphasized throughout the word of God. Moses emphasized the word of God as being the central feature of the Israelites’ lives (Deuteronomy 32.46-47). Many in ancient Israel memorized portions of scripture so they could think about God’s word throughout the day (Psalm 119:11-16). In the New Testament, reading God’s word is emphasized as well (1 Timothy 4:13).
Bible reading and prayer go hand-in-hand. Jesus modeled a life of prayer for His disciples. Even though He frequently traveled and often had very long days of ministry, Jesus consistently spent time in prayer (Luke 5:16; 6:12). Prayer is a means of discovering God’s will and obtaining His solutions in a number of situations. We pray to demonstrate our faith in God, that He will do as He has promised in His word.
At FBCO we have a wide variety of volunteer positions across a wide variety of ministry areas. There are literally dozens of ministry areas in which to serve. Indeed, it takes the whole body of Christ to fulfill the mission of the church (Ephesians 4:11-13, 16). Jesus equips leaders to serve the body of Christ so that, together, we can see the entire church strengthened. Every part of the body has an important role to play (1 Corinthians 12:15-20). As a ministry, we ask every member of our faith family to engage weekly in one hour of worship; one hour of small group Bible study; and one hour of service. Once again, as ministry leaders we should commit ourselves to these ideals as we model for others what it means to be devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
In our culture, just as in ancient times, money can provide some measure of identity, security, and power. Therefore, the temptation to put our confidence in money rather than God is always present (Matthew 6:24). Instead of allowing money to function like a god in our lives, we should use money for the purposes of God with joyful expectation that God will reward us with heavenly riches (Matthew 6:19-21; 1 Timothy 6:7-11, 17-19). The Bible gives us several important ways to use our money. We should pay for our own food, clothing, and housing (2 Thessalonians 3:6-10); we should provide for our families (1 Timothy 5:3-4, 8); we should support pastors and other ministers of the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:13-14); and we should help those who for various reasons cannot support themselves and have no family to help them (Ephesians 4:28). So, what does this mean practically when it comes to giving to our local church? The practice of tithing, giving 10% of one’s income to the work of the Lord, commenced with Abraham (Genesis 14.20) and was continued by Jacob (Genesis 28.22). Moses commanded the practice (Leviticus 27.30-33), and it was commended by Jesus Christ (Matthew 23.23). Many Christians have committed to give 10% of their incomes to the local church. In any event, we are to give regularly, systematically, and cheerfully, and in proportion as to how God has prospered us (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7). Whatever our current financial condition as ministry leaders, giving a tithe and giving beyond the tithe are ways we can all honor God, demonstrate our dependence upon Him, and reach out to meet the needs of others.
Throughout the Bible, God often called imperfect people to act as role models, including Moses, Elijah, David, Peter, Paul, and many others. Of course, Jesus is the perfect role model. He spent much of His time in prayer, demonstrated love and compassion, and served others. As believers, we are called to “walk, even as he walked” (1 John 2:6), and “follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). We are not only to be good role models, but godly ones. As ministry leaders we should all consider our influence in the lives of others. No one is perfect, and everyone will falter at some point in their lives. However, by God’s grace we should commit ourselves to walking with God daily as growing disciples of Jesus Christ.