“Leaders develop daily not in a day.” John Maxwell
Disciples develop daily not in a day. It’s a process! Tom Cocklereece
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
1. Passive Discipleship: the least effective method but essential to support other methods
2. Private Discipleship: the Christian and the Holy Spirit (most effective but under used)
3. Presence Discipleship: In times of crisis the disciple invests time, assistance, and prayer.
4. Participation or Proximity Discipleship: applies to all areas but most of all to giving
5. Projected Discipleship: Actively but humbly projecting a Christian example of living Christ’s teachings.
7. Program Discipleship: Pre-packaged materials delivered in large or small groups.
8. Personal Discipleship: One-on-one discipleship (very effective but seldom used)
9. Peer Group Discipleship: Bible study and Sunday School
10. Practical Discipleship: Hands on service, evangelism, and missional projects
11. Proficiency Discipleship: Leadership Development
12. Proclamation Discipleship: Evangelism and preaching to unchurched
13. 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
This series of articles has brought us full circle through twelve methods of discipleship but it is this one that puts all the others into action. The previous twelve methods of disciple-making do not happen without intentional leadership which requires leaders to think differently about making disciples. Without intentionality from the pastor or a key leader, a church’s discipleship process will likely settle into a pattern of Program and Platform Discipleship. These two methods by themselves are not enough to sustain a healthy church. Simple Discipleship is a ministry model that helps leaders to think in new ways about how to make disciples. It can help leaders see the limitations of using only a few of the methods and intentionally leading their church to employ a wider range of the twelve methods which may then become a sustainable process. Some churches have a sustained disciple-making culture but many have lost that dynamic of their culture…and some churches never had it. Simple Discipleship helps leaders get a handle on developing a sustainable process of disciple-making so as to nurture it into the church culture. Leaders of healthy churches can:
- Identify their disciple-making process and the methods used.
- Celebrate the fact that their discipleship process is working by pointing to new disciples of Jesus every year.
- Identify a growing number of people serving in ministry and missions.
- May enjoy a growing spiritual maturity for themselves as there are new leaders to take some of the leadership responsibilities.
- May begin to enjoy the synergy of a healthy church as positive momentum is achieved.
The most common error of leaders starting a new process is that they either hurry essential steps of leading change or they skip them altogether.
WHAT IS PROCESS DISCIPLESHIP?
If you look up the word “process” you will find among the definitions “a natural phenomenon marked by gradual changes that lead toward a particular resultà the process of growth.” Within the definition we may find a large reason of why many churches are not growing, declining, or failing. We might call this the “discipleship cycle” that must be sustained if a church is to remain healthy. Think of “evangelism” as the resulting energy of the discipleship cycle. If there is a disruption in the discipleship cycle of the church then evangelism will diminish. Disruptions of the discipleship cycle may be caused by conflict, ineffective structures, poor leadership, a focus on many urgent issues without a focus on the important essentials, and a lack of disciple-making to name a few. Interestingly, the opposite of “process” is recess, recession, regress, regression, retreat, or retrogression. Read those words again! If your church has no real discipleship process, no discipleship cycle, then your church is or will soon be in recession, regression, and retreat.
PROCESS DISCIPLESHIP IS NOT EASY
The following dialogue is a representation of a recent discussion between leaders about discipleship in their respective churches:
Paul has served as the senior pastor of Johnstown Church for five years during which the church has maintained her membership and attendance but has not grown. Paul becomes concerned about the lack of growth of his church and arranges a lunch meeting with his pastor friend, Charles.
Paul asked, “Charles, what are you doing to grow your church?”
“We have done many different things over the years but we recently learned of something called ‘Simple Discipleship,” and we’ve been doing it for about a year.” Charles replied.
Paul asked, “What is it?”
Charles said, “A friend sent me the book Simple Discipleship and after reading it, I did some online coaching with the book author. We carefully mapped out a plan to develop a sustainable discipleship process.”
Paul said, “I’m looking for something traditional, you know, like a revival or evangelism training.”
After laughing, Charles said, “There’s nothing more traditional than Bible-centered disciple-making. In fact, you should do the things you mentioned plus Simple Discipleship. It will help you develop a complete plan.”
Paul frowned and said, “How is Simple Discipleship working for you?”
Charles smiled and said, “It has been a lot of work…”
“I thought you said it was easy!” Paul interrupted.
Charles replied, “It’s simple. That’s not the same thing as easy. We have grown by about 12% in a year but better than that, we also have 40% more people involved in ministry and missions than before. It is changing our church culture.”
Paul thought for a minute and said, “I don’t know. I have been at my church for five years. If I start this thing now and it works, it’s going to make me look bad. People will think I don’t know how to do discipleship.”
Charles said, “It’s up to you. The purpose of the church is to make disciple-making disciples. Simple Discipleship is working for us and we’ll keep doing it.” Charles spoke directly, “Paul, I think you need to examine whether you are a leader of God’s church or a manager of the status-quo in a church that is ‘playing church.’”
PROCESS DISCIPLESHIP 12 SURPRISES
Church leaders who have transitioned to using Process Discipleship such as Simple Discipleship, have said, “I wish I had been able to use this all these years.” There have been several surprises since the publication of Simple Discipleship.
- Few unhealthy and stagnant churches are using any form of Process Discipleship.
- Some leaders are surprised at the suggestion that “the one purpose of the church is to make disciples.” (Worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and mission are the result or by product of a disciple-making church.)
- Some leaders cannot seem to understand the difference between a program and a process.
- Some leaders have mistakenly equated “easy” and “simple.”
- Some leaders fear that starting a sustainable discipleship process in their church will make them look bad. BTW, they’re not real leaders.
- Some leaders have forgotten that effective discipleship is an investment into “evangelism futures.”
- Many leaders are looking for “the next big thing” instead of growing roots in their current ministry and building a church culture of sustainable disciple-making that creates sustainable evangelism.
- Few church leaders understand visioneering and how to lead sustainable change.
- Few churches employ Personal Discipleship (one-to-one). The number is probably less than 1%…even though it has been the most effective method from biblical times to the present.
- Few churches equip Christians to be disciple-makers even though that is the clear meaning of the Great Commission of Jesus.
- Few churches intentionally employ Proclamation Discipleship that is targeted to non-Christians and the unchurched as most church meetings consist of Christians hearing the evangelistic message repeatedly. Unfortunately, hearing evangelistic messages does not translate into more Christians sharing the Gospel.
- A successful transition to developing a sustainable discipleship process usually requires coaching from an outside mentor/coach, as most leaders try to hurry steps of leading change.
Finally, an overarching surprise is the resistance of some church leaders and the openness of others as related to denominational affiliations. Simple Discipleship was published by ChurchSmart Resources which is a non-denominational evangelical publisher. As a result, Simple Discipleship is being used at some level by churches across the spectrum: Southern Baptist, Independent Baptist, Regular Baptist, National Baptist, United Methodist, Church of God, Nazarene, Bible Churches, Four Square Churches, Presbyterian, and Lutheran…just to name a few. I am blessed, humbled, and motivated to continue doing my part to launch a discipleship revolution in the 21st century.
I would love to have the opportunity to serve you in your discipleship makeover!
Buy The Discipleship Resource Kit (includes book, Toolkit, and start-up sermon series)
Hire Tom Cocklereece as your Discipleship Ministry Coach
- Does your church have a discipleship process?
- How many of the 13 discipleship methods does your church employ?
- Can you identify the elements of your church’s discipleship cycle?
- Write a short blog or discussion about the discipleship cycle theory with evangelism as the resulting by-product. Is it a true thesis?
Dr. Tom Cocklereece, The Disciplist
Dr. Tom Cocklereece is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC
He is a pastor, author, professional coach, leadership specialist, and is a member Coach/Teacher/Speaker for the John Maxwell Team
This post has already been read 5456 times!
We honor copyright laws on print material as well as photos. We take or make many of our own photos and buy some as well. We never use images from others that have copyright markings. We remove any material or photo that is questioned as soon as we become aware of it. If you believe we have posted copyrighted material please inform us and we will evaluate it: tom@simplediscipleship.
The Leadership Chair
Follow Simple Discipleship
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
Disciple-Maker’s Toolkit- Leader & Learner Editions
Free Discipleship Plan pdf
Ministry Leadership Ad
SD Online Guests
Most Read Posts
- NAME YOUR GREMLIN: Denial (37,313)
- ARE WE “SLAVES” OR “SERVANTS” OF CHRIST? A DISCUSSION ABOUT BIBLE TRANSLATION AND THE HCSB (35,562)
- Diabesity - A Reversible Epidemic: Guest Blog by Mark Hyman, MD for RENEW WELLNESS (14,137)
- 6 REASONS TO MONITOR YOUR BLOOD SUGAR: A RENEW Wellness Diabetes Testimony (7,412)
- THE RED PILL OR THE BLUE PILL? (6,322)
- GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY! (5,823)
- DISCIPLESHIP BEST PRACTICES: #13 – PROCESS DISCIPLESHIP (5,456)
- MAKE YOUR OWN "MINISTRY COMPETENCY WORD CLOUD" (5,017)
- EXPONENTIAL 2012: ARE YOU BEING SIFTED? (4,822)
- 11 WAYS A STAFF CHRISTIAN COACH CAN GROW YOUR CHURCH (4,820)
- VISION IS VIRAL BUT STRATEGY IS STATIC (4,498)
- SO, YOUR CHURCH IS SEARCHING FOR A PASTOR (4,173)
- DISCIPLESHIP BEST PRACTICES: 7- PROGRAM DISCIPLESHIP (4,114)
- WHY DON’T SMART PEOPLE GET JESUS? (REMIX) Guest Post by Rachael Fox (3,816)
- BASIC CHRISTIAN COMPETENCIES (3,791)
- NAME YOUR GREMLIN: Scaredy Gremlin (3,656)
- WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF DISCIPLESHIP? (3,573)
- FIVE ELEMENTS OF A BOOK REVIEW (3,457)
- THE LAWS OF DISCIPLESHIP PROJECT (3,349)
- SUNDAY SCHOOL THAT REALLY RESPONDS by Steve Parr: AN UNSOLICITED REVIEW (3,346)
- EVERY CHRISTIAN A DISCIPLE-MAKER (3,259)
- WHY EVANGELISM ISN’T WORKING (3,231)
- SECRET CHURCH REFLECTIONS (3,159)
- COUNTER-CULTURAL CHRISTIANITY: THE WAY IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE (2,981)
- BREAKING THE EVANGELISM CODE by Victor H. Benavides (2,911)
- A SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE LESSON (2,899)
- SIMPLE DISCIPLESHIP AND SPIRITUAL GIFTS (2,829)
- THE DARK KNIGHT vs THE BRIGHT KNIGHT (2,823)
- SO, YOU ARE SEARCHING FOR A NEW CHURCH OR MINISTRY (2,705)
- A JOURNEY TO THE DARK SIDE (2,620)
- DISCIPLESHIP BEST PRACTICES: #11 – PROFICIENCY DISCIPLESHIP (2,586)
- A 10-POINT CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT PROCESS (2,580)
- GREMLINS AND GUARDIANS – STAY ON THE RIGHT PATH (2,527)
- RUB A DUB DUB, PLUNGE AND SCRUB (2,523)
- HOW TO GET RID OF YOUR GREMLINS: Blamer (2,409)
- ONLINE MASTERMIND: DISCIPLESHIP BEST PRACTICES (2,306)
- PREVENTING SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE CHURCH (2,276)
- NAME YOUR GREMLIN: PRIDE AND ARROGANCE (2,234)
- TRANSFORMATIONAL LOVE: 1 CORINTHIANS 13 (2,194)
- PREPARE FOR DEFINING MOMENTS (2,179)
- DISCIPLESHIP IS CHRISTIAN CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT (2,116)
- 30 Coaching Questions to Create your Ministry Leadership Development Plan (2,067)
- THE FIVE MISSIONAL MOVEMENTS OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS (2,037)
- MINISTRY COMPETENCY LEADERSHIP COACHING (2,021)
- MISCONCEPTIONS OF LEADERSHIP (1,954)
- THE IMPACT OF SIMPLE DISCIPLESHIP (1,930)
- LIVING THE DREAM OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. (1,802)
- TRANSFORMATIONAL DISCIPLESHIP: A REVIEW (1,794)
- BORN INTO WAR: SPIRITUAL WARFARE AND DISCIPLESHIP (1,779)
- ANYONE CAN BE A SERVANT OF GOD (1,718)