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4 Skills to Help People Take Their Next Discipleship Step

  • 31 October 2017
  • Randy Wollf

Next stepDisciples of Jesus want to help others become disciples of Jesus. But this is sometimes easier said than done. How can you help people take their next faith step without being too prescriptive? What's the balance between sharing your own thoughts and allowing God's Spirit to move an individual into action?

I've found four skills to be especially valuable in helping people take next steps based on the Leader Breakthru Coaching approach.

Skill #1 - Listening

We all know that listening is important. Yet, most leaders are not listeners. We typically pre-conclude and make recommendations because we think it's more efficient. Leaders like to fix people and things quickly.

Active listening is holding off judgment and really trying to hear what the other person is actually saying and even thinking. To do this, we need to practice the 80/20 rule – listen 80% of the time and only talk 20%.

Here are five tips to help you listen better:

  • Listen with your mind – pay attention to what the other person is saying. Don't let your mind drift to other matters, even though they may be pressing.
  • Listen with your body – body language often communicates more than our words. Active listening means that we are facing the person and maintaining appropriate eye contact (and not looking at our phone).
  • Listen with your words – it's important to summarize what you think the other person is saying, so that you know you're hearing correctly (and so the other person knows you are listening and care about the conversation).
  • Listen with your intuition – as you are listening, you will sometimes begin to "hear" things beneath the surface. Your intuition will notice subtle cues that will help you say things that nudge the conversation in productive directions.
  • Listen with the Spirit – if you're a follower of Jesus, you can be confident that the Holy Spirit is guiding you. Ask Him to give you insight into the conversation and then to guide your responses.  

Skill #2 - Expanding

Expanding is all about asking good questions that help the other person think in different ways. As Terry Walling, Executive Director of Leader Breakthru, has said, "Discovery is about ownership. That which an individual discovers, they have a greater propensity to implement." 

Engaging in Tough Discipleship Questions

  • 17 October 2017
  • MinistryLift blogger

When you think of discipleship, what fills you with fear? 

My role as camp director of Camp Likely has given me the opportunity to meet and interact with many young adults and teens. These are teens who desire to follow Jesus with their whole hearts. They want answers to big questions as they face decisions about their futures, friendships, relationships, church, and faith. 

Some of the hardest conversations I have with them are about these big topics. These are challenging conversations because each one comes with a different perspective, sphere of influence, and specific needs. I really don’t want to give them cookie-cutter answers that I know "feel" good or are the "right" thing to say. I want to be able to engage in the conversation authentically, as Jesus did. 

This, however, has been seriously impossible. I have found that when I engage in conversations about sexuality, finances, faith, career, or relationships that I’m not sure what to say or what not to say. These are topics that are so personal, so close to the heart. I don't want to lose the relationship I already have with them by being too assertive with my views. 

My biggest fear in discipleship is being too forward. I struggle with the fine balance of listening and encouraging with correcting, or offering another way of thinking or doing. I know I limit the amount of hard conversations or questions I have because I don't want to lose the relationship. I don't want it to be overly serious. 

However, Jesus still requires me to be a disciple-maker. To be engaged. To be serious. To be fun. To be dependable. To be honest. To be faithful to His ways. 

In a world where many young people are choosing to leave their faith or live it out differently than in the past, I believe we have a call to still engage. Engage in what is going on with those who we are in relationship with. And if we can't even show up, what can we contribute? 

I truly believe that if I won't first address my fears about discipleship or my fears about the big questions or the grey areas of living for Christ, then how can I expect to be an effective disciple-maker? 

How can Jesus use your strengths and weaknesses to point people closer to Him? How can Jesus lead you to engage as He did? 

As we share some of our fears, I believe we will be able to consider what it means to truly engage in the tough questions, discover our role, and identify the obstacles that are stopping us. When I do this, I have noticed that I no longer feel stuck in my weakness but experience the joy of living in Christ's strength (Philippians 4:13).

How to Incorporate Accountability into Your Discipleship Approach

  • 9 August 2017
  • Randy Wollf

two women talking and listeningReggie McNeal has said, "Genuine spirituality lives and flourishes only in cultures and relationships of accountability" [1]. If this is true, and I believe it is, then accountability must be an essential element of our disciple-making strategies.

According to Dr. Dave Currie, accountability is "the volunteer surrender of your life to the regular and frequent scrutiny and encouragement of another person for the purpose of ongoing life transformation that brings glory to God" [2]. 

Currie believes that this kind of accountability helps people get perspective on current problems. It paves the way for support in tough times. It provides a consistent challenge to grow. It helps keep us focused on the future and to take necessary next steps in our personal growth. In the words of Bob Proctor, "Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to the result." 

Now, it's important to realize that the most effective forms of accountability combine loving graciousness with tenacious and consistent support. Accountability should not be legalistic or brutal. It's meant to provide just enough pressure to initiate and sustain growth at an optimal pace.

So, what does accountability look like? It's simply discussing what's going on in your life. What are your current struggles? What are the possibilities that excite you? It's talking about the emotions that you experience, particularly those that are recurring emotions. Accountability provides an opportunity to explore our primary relationships. It's a place to ask hard questions.

In his book entitled Cultivating a Life for God, Neil Cole shares a number of accountability questions that people can ask each other in what he calls "Life Transformation Groups"—groups of two or three Christians that meet weekly to help each other grow in their relationship with God. Cole includes the following questions from James Bryan Smith and Richard Foster: 

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