This series of articles explores twelve major methods that are effective for making disciples. Keep in mind that in a ubiquitous (all encompassing, everywhere present) disciple-making process, virtually each method is not only encouraged but is planned into the church ministries. Here is a list including links to articles that have been completed in the series:
- Simple Discipleship: A Comprehensive Disciple-Making Plan- The Simple Discipleship Virtual Book Tour- (updated) originally posted in 2010
- DISCIPLESHIP BEST PRACTICES: 13 Ways to Make Disciples
- Passive Discipleship: the least effective method but essential to support other methods
- Private Discipleship: the Christian and the Holy Spirit (most effective but under used)
- Presence Discipleship: In times of crisis the disciple invests time, assistance, and prayer.
- Participation or Proximity Discipleship: applies to all areas but most of all to giving
- Projected Discipleship: Actively but humbly projecting a Christian example of living Christ’s teachings.
- Platform or Presentation Discipleship: preaching in church and lecture-style Bible study
- Program Discipleship: Pre-packaged materials delivered in large or small groups.
- Personal Discipleship: One-on-one discipleship (very effective but seldom used)
- Peer Group Discipleship: Bible study and Sunday School
- Practical Discipleship: Hands on service, evangelism, and missional projects
- Proficiency Discipleship: Leadership Development
- Proclamation Discipleship: Evangelism and preaching to unchurched
- Process Discipleship: All of the above delivered in a systematic way
Evaluate how you and your church are doing in the 13 methods of discipleship: Copy of 13 Ways to Make Disciples_Evaluation
WHAT IS PRESENCE DISCIPLESHIP
On January 12, 2010 at 4:53 PM Haiti was shaken by a 7.0 earthquake. The quake killed 220,000 people and left another 1.9 million Haitians homeless. The international community responded quickly with many Christian agencies showing up in force to assist. Within a month and a half just one Baptist ministry had provided 437,750 meals in Port au Prince alone. That one missions group also reported 40,127 professions of faith within the same time period. Many other ministries reported similar statistics. Christians are known for outpourings of generosity and unselfish service in times of disaster. Missional ministry of every day Christians showing up to help is an incredibly effective form of not just evangelism but also discipleship. I call it PRESENCE DISCIPLESHIP.
PRESENCE DISCIPLESHIP is hands-on ministry and cannot be replaced by any other method or substitute. That’s the essence of why Christ himself came into human history.
PRESENCE DISCIPLESHIP IS GIVING OF YOURSELF
Presence discipleship requires the disciple to GO outside their comfort zone and sometimes into a disaster danger zone to help strangers from another place. It may be the most sacrificial Christ-like act that Christians ever do…and it is for that very reason that many people receive Christ. It is not just because they are open to Christianity because of life upheavals but it is because of the acts of sacrifice by total strangers. Of course the service is powerless unless the gospel is shared and most ministry teams go prepared to share their faith. People on the receiving end of the help are moved by the authenticity of sacrifice before they are convinced by the message of Christ. It is estimated that two million Christians go to serve on international mission trips every year. There is no accurate accounting of how many conversions take place as a result of all missional activities of churches of all denominations but it would indeed be an impressive number.
PRESENCE DISCIPLESHIP CHANGES THE DISCIPLE
A natural disaster or war is not required in order to for Christians to enjoy the benefits of presence discipleship. Many Christians participate in a variety of mission trips providing medical treatment, building labor, and prayer walking. Of course there are the usual disaster relief mission trips that include medical treatment, cleanup, chainsaw, feeding units, and even chaplains. This army of Christians are the active church on the front lines of spiritual warfare and the Lord rewards them with the feeling of helping others, the blessing of winning souls to Christ, and often the benefit of their own lives being changed forever.
The obvious goal of presence discipleship is to change the lives of people in the place in which the disciple participates in the mission trip. However, there is a return on the investment specifically a great blessing of fulfillment in the life of the obedient disciple who sacrificially participates in the missionary venture of God called the Great Commission.
As a student at the University of Tennessee, Johnnie Mack Stephens has participated in a number of mission trips. He certainly praises God for the opportunity to help others in times of need but he also equally gives thanks to God as he recognized that he himself experienced transformational change simply because he helped others…strangers. Thus we can say that as disciples make new disciples, the disciple-makers are discipled deeper into Christ.
I like what D. Kevin Brown said in his blog after returning from a mission trip to Mexico where he took thirty seven people who put presence discipleship into action:
There are few things in life that you can guarantee. Death and taxes are the two we usually think of. However, there is something else I can guarantee someone. If you ever choose to go on a mission trip, it will 100%, positively, guaranteed, change your life.
Brown’s comments illustrate the importance of presence discipleship and yet there are many churches that never lead their people on a mission trip and there are many Christians who have never been on a mission trip. In fact there are many churches that do no missional projects locally off campus and in their own community and there are many Christians who, outside of Sunday, have never intentionally practiced presence discipleship. There is something inherent in getting away on a working retreat that awakens the soul and recalibrates the Christian to God’s Great Commission and will.
10 WAYS TO PRACTICE PRESENCE DISCIPLESHIP
- Church leaders must put into practice presence discipleship.
- Church leaders must then encourage others to participate in presence discipleship.
- Church leaders must create opportunities for presence discipleship both locally and in places beyond the geographical location of the church.
- Educate the church in presence discipleship and how people are to put it into practice.
- Empower presence discipleship as a contagious practice by celebrating the praises of participants of a mission trip or missional team.
- Plan missions/missional projects into the life of the church using a process such as Simple Discipleship.
- On a regular basis and using a Balanced Scorecard, measure the spiritual vitality of individuals, small groups/Sunday school classes, and the church as a whole using a measure that takes presence discipleship into consideration. Again Simple Discipleship provides leaders with this ability.
- While on mission trips and missional projects provide devotional materials that will help participants integrate the life-change God is bringing into their life as a result of participating.
- Be sure to “debrief” the team so everyone may share the experience. This will create momentum for future projects and trips.
10. Pray for the people on both sides of the presence discipleship equation.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of presence discipleship in your life.
- Grade your church on how effectively presence discipleship is encouraged using a scale of 1 to 10.
- This article lists ten ways to encourage presence discipleship. What would you add to the list?
- When was the last mission trip or missional project your church staged? Did you participate? Why or why not?
- If you have participated in a mission trip or missional project, how have you shared the experience with others?
- Can you list the stages of spiritual growth with biblical references?
- Ask the people (back row Christians) to define the church’s discipleship process and to identify ten biblical expectations for growing Christians.
Dr. Tom Cocklereece, The Disciplist
Simple Discipleship: How to Make Disciples in the 21st Century was published by Church Smart Resources. To learn more about Simple Discipleship and to order the book, follow the link below:
Dr. Tom Cocklereece is Author of “Simple Discipleship,” and a contributing writer for www.Linked2Leadership.com Blogazine. He is a pastor, leadership coach, and ministry development specialist.
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THE LAWS OF DISCIPLESHIP
THE LAWS OF DISCIPLESHIP PROJECTBe a part of The Laws of Discipleship Project! Each law of discipleship reflects the light of Christ like a facet of a diamond. Tom Cocklereece is currently writing the manuscript for this upcoming discipleship resource. You are invited to participate. If you are interested, email tom@ simplediscipleship.com
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