This series of articles explores thirteen 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
AN ABSURD ANALOGY…
John and Sandy went to the doctor’s office together with great apprehension. Several weeks prior, Sandy had completed a routine mammogram exam. Within ten days Sandy received a call to repeat the exam and have some other tests. It raised her concerns as she scheduled the follow-up exam and tests. Within a few days Sandy received a call to have a meeting with a cancer physician. So Sandy decided the report must be bad so she asked her husband to go with her for emotional support. Dr. Patelli walked in and greeted the couple. He was very slim and dressed in a professional manner. While he seemed to project a friendly attitude, his concern and seriousness was evident. The doctor began to go through the report in a matter of fact manner. To boil it down, Sandy had breast cancer that had already spread to her lungs according to the various supporting exams. While this was shocking to Sandy, Dr. Patelli began to reassure her of the treatment and prognosis. He suggested that a treatment regimen using a combination of several varieties of interferon would be effective in her case. He felt that there was a better than 90% chance of curing her cancer. John and Sandy began to ask questions about the treatment and other possibilities.
John asked, “Interferon treatments have been around for some time. Aren’t there newer treatments that should be used?”
Dr. Patelli said, “While there are some negative side effects of interferon and it is an older treatment, I think it is the best to use in Sandy’s case. Again, the cure rate is about 90% using the interferon for this type of cancer.”
“I think I agree with John, Dr. Patelli,” Sandy replied. “I have a friend, Betty who said her mother had a bad reaction to interferon when she had cancer. I want a newer treatment.”
Puzzled, the doctor said, “Well, there are some new chemotherapy regimens that alternate the chemicals to increase effectiveness and are engineered to be gentler than most chemotherapy treatments. However, the survival rate is not as good as the interferon treatment…say 40%.”
Sandy replied, “Let’s go with the chemo treatment.”
“Huh?” Dr. Patelli was dumbfounded and could not believe Sandy’s choice.
PERSONAL DISCIPLESHIP: MOST EFFECTIVE BUT UNDERUSED
My book, Simple Discipleship: How to Make Disciples in the 21st Century was published in late 2009 by Church Smart Resources. During 2010, I had the opportunity to do a sort of “book tour” leading conferences to introduce the book. In the course of the year, leaders from over one hundred churches attended my conferences. I began each conference with a question: “How many churches represented here intentionally do one to one discipleship?” I further explained that “personal discipleship is when new Christians are intentionally paired with a discipler in order to 1) connect the new believer to the church, and 2) to get the new Christian off to a good start learning how to nourish his or her spiritual growth. Out of over 100 churches represented in these meetings, not even one church clearly identified personal discipleship as an intentional disciple-making method that they used. Certainly Jesus used personal discipleship as one of his methods.
Like Dr. Patel in the fictional absurd analogy at the beginning of this article, I was dumbfounded!
Some leaders tried to reason that their church had an assimilation class for new members and Christians but I don’t buy a diversity group assimilation method as discipleship. The goals of assimilation of members and discipleship differ. Assimilation programs are designed primarily with the needs of the organization in mind while discipleship is designed with the needs of the disciplee in mind.
Out of over 100 churches, not even one clearly identified personal discipleship as an intentional disciple-making method they used.
PERSONAL DISCIPLESHIP EFFECTIVENESS
I continue to wonder at why so few churches intentionally employ personal discipleship as a method of disciple-making. In the 20th century we saw class sizes in schools and colleges increase while grades and the quality of education dropped. Since the 1990s there has been an increasing use of home school and one to one tutoring organizations with a concurrent rise in the grades and quality of education for the students affected. On the other hand, grades and education quality continues to fall in schools that have large classes.
I plan to write an article soon with some statistical support for these claims. In a cursory reading of articles on the subject I found that struggling students with just three months of one to one tutoring can jump one whole grade. Clearly personal discipleship is one of the most effective methods of disciple-making. What if churches began intentionally designing one to one discipleship into their disciple-making processes? I believe it would begin a genuine discipleship revolution.
Through my ministry, Simple Discipleship, I recommend designing as many of the thirteen discipleship methods listed above into your church’s disciple-making process and insure that personal discipleship is a priority. Here are several recommendations:
- Simple Discipleship recommends training 4 Discipleship Coaches to insure that the disciple-making process is ongoing.
- The 4 Discipleship Coaches should be a mix of men and women so they may do personal discipleship of others of the same gender.
- Establish strong policies of selection, background checks, and training for Discipleship Coaches.
- Equip Discipleship Coaches with not only the best training but also provide great materials such as The Disciple-Maker’s Toolkit, MasterLife, The Survival Kit, or other proven material.
- Large churches should establish Christian coaching ministries that include at least one coach trainer who will train as many Sunday school teachers as possible to be Discipleship Coaches.
- Christian Coaching Ministries should be separate from education and counseling ministries though they would certainly work together. They should not compete or threaten one another but the goals of each must be firmly established.
In the “Absurd Analogy” at the beginning of the article, which treatment would you choose? If personal discipleship is the equivalent of interferon in the analogy, why would you not employ it in your church? Do it now! Simple Discipleship can assist you with consultation and training of your Christian coaching staff and Discipleship Coaches.
Dr. Tom Cocklereece, The Disciplist
- Examine your church’s disciple-making ministry. Does your church intentionally design personal discipleship into the ministry?
- Why do many churches not use intentional personal discipleship?
- Identify Bible references where personal discipleship is used.
- What steps will your church have to take to develop personal discipleship into the ministry?
- What will you do to move to a high-expectation disciple-making delivery process in your church?
Dr. Tom Cocklereece is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC
Author “Simple Discipleship,” contributing writer L2L Blogazine
He is a pastor, an author, professional coach, and leadership 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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