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Posted: August 13, 2010 12:30 a.m.

The abiding journey

Nearly all churches take seriously Christ’s call to make disciples. However, discipleship is not a one-size-fits-all process, and many churches need help developing a discipleship system that works for them. One local man has dedicated himself to helping church leaders cultivate strategies to turn mere converts into disciples who devote their lives fully to Christ.

Chad Hambrick is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and an ordained minister who has served in various church settings for over 17 years. He has spent those years ministering to hurting people and equipping those who lead and care for others. The particular emphasis that God has laid on his heart is to encourage church leaders to implement a lifestyle of abiding in Christ, serving him, and multiplying his disciples.

Hambrick’s discipleship focus has provided him opportunities to meet with local ministry leaders to provide mutual accountability and mentorship, lead devotions with teachers and develop campus Bible studies, consult with new church plants, and encourage unity among church leaders.

For Hambrick, discipleship is essential to one’s growth as a Christian. He points to Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 28:19-20 to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."

The results of discipleship speak for themselves, according to Hambrick. He notes that when Christians are mentored and discipled, they implement the precepts they are taught. Christians who are discipled become active in their faith as opposed to simply attending church.

"When we get away from the ‘come, sit, listen, and leave’ type of religion and truly experience life change through Christ-centered discipleship, Christianity becomes who we are instead of what we do," said Hambrick.

While some church leaders stress adhering to certain religious practices or altering negative behavior, Hambrick believes that a complete change of heart and attitude in the life of a Christian is more important than merely developing good habits or getting rid of bad ones.

"It will be more productive for us to focus on heart transformation instead of striving for behavior modification," said Hambrick.

Over the last five years, Hambrick has focused his efforts on three areas. He speaks at training events such as Lifeway’s SonPower; at a recent SonPower event in Orlando, over a thousand students gathered for worship and encouragement. Hambrick also consults with churches and ministers throughout the country; he is currently consulting with one local church on discipleship strategy and health. He also has led several mission trips to Central America, where he has led youth gatherings with local worship leader Scott England, worked with orphanages and trained over 500 leaders to make disciples.

One recent mission trip took place this summer in Guatemala. Hambrick, England, and about 25 others met at least once a month for five months to pray, study, bond as a team, and prepare for the trip. In Guatemala, the team put on a Bible school program and invested in the lives of over 150 children. They also spent time together every morning and evening for worship and prayer in order to be spiritually prepared to serve.

Hambrick’s desire to see church leaders make disciples is evident, and he feels blessed by the fact that God has allowed him opportunities not only to serve throughout the world but also to invest in churches in a place like Covington.

"Covington is one of the best places to call home, in my opinion," said Hambrick, "and I have a passion to see the churches in our community bear abundant fruit for God’s Kingdom."

Hambrick loves working with people; he says that seeing a changed life is one of the greatest joys of his ministry. Yet he notes that investing in people is one of the greatest challenges of ministry as well, particularly when a relationship is strained.

Although he has seen the productivity of his discipleship efforts, Hambrick chooses not to revel in success; rather, he freely and humbly directs the credit to God. Hambrick knows that he himself is a disciple who must allow God to do the work.

"If I am being who God leads me to be by allowing Jesus to live in and through my life, then I consider that a success," said Hambrick.

To learn more about Chad Hambrick and his ministry and mission trips, or to read his blog, visit www.theabidingjourney.com.

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