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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).  

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." 

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.

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