discipleship

How to Develop a Strategic Approach to Discipleship

  • 31 October 2017
  • Randy Wollf

In my experience as a pastor and in my interactions with other church leaders, I know that churches sometimes struggle with how to make disciples most effectively. Approaches that worked well in the past may not be as effective today. 

In this blog, we will look at a holistic process for making disciples that involves churches growing in 11 key areas. This strategic pathway of discipleship attempts to integrate a biblical understanding of discipleship with an understanding of contemporary culture. Obviously, some elements may be more important in a particular context while other elements not included in this list may need to be considered.

1. Prayer Saturation 

Prayer permeates disciple-making churches. How can we grow a culture of prayer—a culture in which God delights to work deeply in peoples' lives? Here are nine suggestions I have for how churches can grow in prayer

2. Loving Christ-Centred Community 

Discipleship occurs best in deep communities where people lovingly practice life-on-life discipleship. What can leaders do to develop this kind of intimacy? I believe leaders need to create opportunities for people to develop and grow disciple-making relationships and then model how this is done. Here are 8 characteristics the flow from a Christ-centred community.  

3. Growth Orientation 

When everything in the church is geared toward helping people take next steps, growth becomes normative and expected. Discipleship can flourish in this kind of growth-oriented environment (click here to read how leaders can foster a growth mindset).  

What is Discipleship?

  • 31 October 2017
  • MinistryLift blogger

Jesus was confident that the whole world could and would be transformed through a simple process which he called "making disciples".  

The plan was simple. His life would be reproduced in the lives of others. He would invite people to follow Him. Every person who responded in faith (believed in Him) would join His life group. He would reveal to them the culture of the Kingdom of God. As they spent time with Him, their life and character would become like His. They would learn how to live, love and serve like Jesus. When they were ready He would send them out to repeat and multiply this pattern. 

They would not go out alone. He would go with them by His Spirit. Where two or three were together in His name, He would be there, introducing the culture of the Kingdom of God and forming in them the character of Jesus Christ. His presence would ensure that every new group, every new disciple, was an accurate representation of the original image. Every group would reveal the Kingdom of God. Every disciple would learn to love, live and serve like Jesus. And, when they were ready, they too would be sent to multiply the pattern.

Jesus demonstrated that this could be done with any ordinary, unskilled group of people. The outcomes did not depend on their ability, but His love, His power, and His presence. He alone could reveal the culture of the Kingdom of God. He alone could transform the members of the group. In a relatively short period of time, through a life-on-life experience with Jesus, the culture of the group would be transformed and a seismic shift would take place. The disciples would take on the character of Jesus, their Master. Furthermore, they would know how to disciple others in the same way that Jesus has discipled them.

This reproductive process, guided by the Spirit, ensures that there will be consistent DNA throughout every new generation and the pattern makes exponential Kingdom growth a reality.

This is not just theory; it is a reality. It has been field tested and it works anywhere with anyone, reaching every tribe and nation. Lives are transformed. New people join. The group begins to multiply. Every member becomes a disciple who begins to look like Jesus. Light dispels the darkness. Truth dismantles the lies that have been the foundation of our lives, our culture, our world. Authenticity and holiness become a thing of beauty. The love experienced in these new communities becomes a treasure to be desired.

The VantagePoint3 Pathway

  • 30 October 2017
  • MinistryLift blogger

In September 1999, Randy Reese and I joined 450 other church leaders from 54 countries in Eastbourne, England for the First International Consultation on Discipleship. Throughout the conference, there was a resounding consensus that the Church's "zeal to go wider has not been matched by a commitment to go deeper." John Stott set the tone in his keynote address.  

I wonder how you would sum up the Christian situation in the world today. For me, it's a strange, rather tragic, and disturbing paradox. On the one hand, in many parts of the world the Church is growing by leaps and bounds. But on the other hand, throughout the church, superficiality is everywhere. That's the paradox. Growth without depth. 

No doubt God is not pleased with superficial discipleship. The apostolic writers of the New Testament declare with one voice that God wants his people to grow up and grow into maturity in Christ.

One is hard pressed to find a time in history when the Church has gone more places, has activated more efforts, and has proclaimed the gospel more widely then over the past several decades. Yet there continues to rise from amidst all this activity a growing realization that we are skimming across the surface. God wants his people to grow up and grow into maturity in Christ (Ephesians 4:1-16).  

To this end, we have developed a VantagePoint3 pathway of processes that invite a deeper discipleship and development: three 6-9 month processes (The Journey, A Way of Life, Walking with Others), delivered in a small group format, designed to help men and women develop in Christ. More details will be explaining during the Equip Conference, but let me briefly mention four ingredients that are in "the mix" of helping people sustain a lifelong apprenticeship with Jesus (Matthew 11:29). 

1. Friendship is essential - friendship is not "a cherry on top" of the Christian life; it is an essential condition for a maturing life in Christ. As we make space for a common sharing, honouring, and enjoying of life, something of the Spirit's nurturing grace is imparted to us. 

2. Double knowledge - early church fathers and mothers pointed out that true wisdom in the life of faith is always "a double knowledge". That is, knowledge of God and knowledge of self are inextricably linked together. 

Pages