News Articles

‘Watershed principle’ makes discipleship a lifestyle

Ray Sullivan (bottom right), discipleship catalyst for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, explains the "watershed principle" of discipleship.

NASHVILLE (BP) – Georgia Baptist Mission Board representatives discussed how to view discipleship as a process rather than a program during a webinar hosted Thursday (Oct. 28).

Pastors can streamline their churches’ ministries into a discipleship lifestyle using what they call the “watershed principle.”

The principle, created by Georgia Baptist discipleship catalyst Scott Sullivan in 2020, is to create a pathway for the existing activities of the church to become a life-changing discipleship lifestyle, much like a watershed funnels streams of water into a common outlet.

Ministry concepts such as service, reaching, teaching, leading and multiplying are to be thought of as streams that can all be guided into the discipleship “waterfall” below.

Ray Sullivan, discipleship consultant for the south region, said the “watershed principle” works well because it is not another program to get started, but a strategy to implement.

“These healthy streams need to be in partnership and need to be coming together in order for you to have that life-transforming moment,” Sullivan said.

“That’s what I love about this for our pastors as it isn’t something new or a new program, this is looking at what you’re already doing. When you begin to think about a pathway, you’ve got these things in place. The question is how are they all coming together and bringing that life-changing ‘waterfall’ moment.”

Kenny Sexton, pastor of Satilla Baptist Church in Wray, Ga., said the key to discipleship goes beyond human principles. A true understanding of the Gospel and its power is what will carry the “streams” into life-changing discipleship.

“Bill Hull has said it many times like this, ‘the Gospel you preached determines the disciples you produce’” Sexton said.

“The Gospel we’ve been preaching really says that discipleship is optional, but we realize discipleship is not optional. When we become a Christian that’s just the beginning of everything.”

Duane Logsdon, associate pastor of discipleship at Byne Memorial Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., said discipleship should be viewed more as a life-long process, because it is an eternal spiritual journey, rather than a program to mark as finished.

“It’s really a lifestyle with discipleship,” Logsdon said. “It’s not you get a book and then you get a completion certificate at the end and you’ve reached your goal. It’s developing the church and the people in the church so that the process becomes part of the DNA. I don’t give a certificate of completion; I give a certificate of continuation.

“The process of multiplication should be understood so that everyone should be a disciple-maker. Your Sunday school teachers and life-group leaders, those people are not just there passing on biblical information, they are disciple-makers. The end goal is eternity and this is an on-going process.”

Sullivan concluded the discussion by saying it is easy to get distracted, but it’s important for pastors to keep biblical discipleship their main focus.

Giving an example of a wrist tattoo of Acts 1:8 he got after his son prompted him to get a tattoo, Sullivan encouraged pastors to create whatever reminder it takes to keep the Great Commission vision at the front of their minds.

“Programs are easier to maintain. We can say we’re doing something and check a box, but the Bible says the goal is to be conformed into the image of Christ. You’ve got define what the win is, and have something that reminds you of what the goal is every day. Whatever you’ve got to do to maintain that vision.”

Through generous church donations to the Cooperative Program, Georgia discipleship catalysts host weekly webinars each Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern.

The webinars cover a variety of topics, and can be viewed live on Facebook, YouTube, or listened to on any podcast streaming platform. More information about Georgia Baptist discipleship and the Watershed principle can be found here.