discipleship

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: 

Developing a Missional Mindset in Your Church

  • 10 May 2017
  • Keith Reed

What does it mean to be on mission for God? In a previous blog, I explored Six Marks of a Missional Church from Acts 2:42-47. In this article, I want to explore this theme further and unpack ways we can develop a missional mindset in our churches. 

A Missional Church is Incarnational

A missional church recognizes that most people will not come to a building to hear the gospel. People in a missional church are actively bringing Christ to those who desperately need him. Just as "the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood," so too, those on a mission incarnate and share the gospel with those around them [1]. 

For the past 18 years, my family has lived in a nine-unit townhouse complex. Even though we’ve contemplated buying a detached house many times, one of the main reasons we choose to stay is because it’s easier to do life with people when you live close to them. It’s definitely harder to avoid your neighbours when they’re standing ten feet away (although we do manage to do this sometimes). Over the years, we’ve been able to share the gospel with several of our townhouse friends. At least two of them have accepted Christ.

We took this living-in-close-proximity-thing one step further last year when we moved into an apartment building with refugees for seven months (you can read about our adventure in the Do Something blog). We did life with these newcomers to Canada and had many opportunities to share Christ. In fact, it was sometimes ridiculously easy to talk about our faith.

Of course, not everyone lives in an apartment or a townhouse. The point is that we need to find ways to move into people’s lives—to build relationships, to be a blessing, and to share the gospel as the Holy Spirit opens up people’s hearts to hear it (see Six Ways Anyone Can Share Their Faith for more ideas).

A Missional Church Equips and Empowers Individuals to be Active in their Harvest Fields

It’s one thing to talk about being a missional church, but how do we mobilize the masses to live missionally? Let me suggest five ways: 

1. Sermons need to remind people of the importance of the gospel for both them and the unsaved. This gives people a vision for gospel-living. 

Adopting a Personalized Approach to Discipleship

  • 3 April 2017
  • Randy Wollf

StaircaseImagine a staircase that represents spiritual growth and maturity {1}. One way to disciple would be for someone further up the staircase to call people on lower steps to a higher standard and application of that standard. This might be motivational. A similar approach would be for someone who is more spiritually mature to not only call others to a higher standard, but to provide a detailed plan for how to achieve that growth.

What do you notice about these two approaches? They are both truth-based and growth-oriented. They provide an important vision for spiritual maturity. They communicate necessary ideas. Yet, they lack a personal touch and may not actually help a person take the next step in their discipleship journey.

A third approach would be for the disciple-maker to come alongside the disciple—to climb down the stairs and join them in their spiritual journey. This kind of personalized approach allows the disciple-maker to enter the experience of the disciple (and vice versa) and to provide the necessary support and guidance to take next steps.

What are four characteristics of this kind of personalized approach? 

1. It assumes relationship 

We cannot truly understand where people are at apart from a growing relationship with them. As we connect deeply with people, we are able to pray, encourage, support, and speak into their lives in ways that can help them move forward (you can check out Eight Characteristics of Disciple-making Relationships for more on these kinds of relationships). 

2. It involves customization

A large-group or programmatic approach to discipleship is often good for covering broad discipleship themes. A highly relational approach allows the disciple-maker to customize the application of this kind of content, so that it has maximum value for the other person. 

3. It necessitates a coaching/mentoring mindset

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