discipleship

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

5 Ways that Leaders Can Foster a Growth Mindset in their Churches

  • 27 March 2017
  • Randy Wollf

vine climbing up tree trunk How do we cultivate a church culture where people actually want to grow in their affection for Christ and in their capacity to serve Him more effectively? Without a growth mindset, people will likely be satisfied with a mediocre distortion of biblical Christianity—"a standard churchy spirituality that doesn't require any real action, courage, or sacrifice" (Allan Hirsch).

A deep, disciple-making movement is possible when people grow in their relationship with God, develop godly character, pursue their God-given calling, love others, and hone and use their gifts/abilities in tandem with others (see Seven Dimensions of Christian leadership).

Let me share five ways that leaders can foster a growth mindset in their churches:

1. Share what you're learning

Growing leaders inspire others to grow. I would encourage leaders to humbly share what they’re learning from Scripture, what is helping them from their other reading and watching, and the lessons God is trying to teach them through their mistakes and successes. Be open and transparent about your journey.

2. Facilitate learning experiences

If you’re a ministry leader, you must facilitate learning experiences for your ministry team. Regularly debrief with team members one-on-one and as a team to catch key lessons that will strengthen people and the ministry. Do training activities with your team whether it’s 15 minutes at the start of a meeting or at an annual retreat.

Note: MinistryLift is available to help you with your training needs. Feel free to contact us for live training options or check out our Video Training Resources.

3. Provide appropriate resources that build capacity 

8 Characteristics of Disciple-Making Relationships

  • 20 March 2017
  • Randy Wollf

3 women laughing togetherGrowing relationships are an essential component of discipleship in the church. Without relational depth, discipleship suffers.

In this blog, I will describe eight characteristics of effective disciple-making relationships within a larger community.

1. Transparency

In a transparent community, people are open and real with one another. They share successes and struggles. They’re not afraid to deal with tough questions. In fact, when this kind of transparency exists in a church, young people are much more likely to stick with the church as they move into adulthood (see blog on the Hemorrhaging Faith Study).

2. Investment

Developing deep relationships requires a significant investment of time and energy. Are we willing to carve out this space in our busy lives? Of course, maintaining meaningful relationships takes time and effort, as well. When we get close to people, we enter their world—a complex and sometimes messy place. Living in those spaces requires commitment!

For several years, my family participated in missional communities that met in homes. Some people called them "simple church." Yet, we discovered that even though the structure was simple, the life-on-life discipleship that took place was far from simple. However, the Jesus-followers in effective disciple-making communities are willing to invest deeply in one another's lives.

3. Levity

When we laugh and enjoy one another, we are in a much better position to go deeper with one another. Levity is the gateway to and moderator of the intensity that is often required for deep discipleship.

4. Intensity

We want to have fun together, but we also need a certain amount of intensity that will position us to press more deeply into one another’s lives. For example, if someone is struggling with a particular temptation, we would want to provide the necessary support and accountability.

5. Prayerfulness

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