plan

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.

Developing a Discipleship Approach in Your Church

  • 10 July 2017
  • Randy Wollf

Discipleship blueprintI often hear this question from church leaders: "How do we develop a discipleship strategy in our churches?" Here’s my attempt to answer that question.

First, let’s consider what discipleship is.

Discipleship is both relational and transformational. A disciple of Jesus is in a growing relationship with Jesus. Transformation occurs as the Holy Spirit renovates people’s hearts; godly character qualities grow (see Five Strategies for Growing Your Character blog); thoughts and actions become more God-honouring.

According to Dallas Willard, "Discipleship is the process of becoming who Jesus would be if he were you." This requires a close relationship (see John 15) that produces Christ-like fruit. 

Next, let's understand what disciple-making means. 

Disciple-making is helping people take next steps in their relationship with Jesus and obedience to Him.

In Real-life Discipleship, Jim Putnam suggests there are five spiritual stages: dead, infant, child, young adult, and parent. It is helpful to identify the stage in which someone is located so that we can come alongside them and help them move toward the next stage.

As we help people become more spiritually mature, it is helpful to think about doing so in six ways (these align with the Dimensions of Christian Leadership). We want to help people grow in their relationship with God, develop godly character qualities, understand and live out God's calling on their lives, develop strong relationships, learn how to serve well on a team, and maximize their gifts and abilities in living out their calling.

How then do churches position themselves for maximum discipleship?

In Developing a Strategic Pathway for Discipleship in Your Church, I suggest there are five layers of discipleship within the church: church culture, large group, small group, one-on-one, and individual. As we strengthen each layer, we will position our churches for more effective disciple-making. 

Eight Steps to Lead Change in Your Church

  • 14 November 2016
  • Randy Wollf

Geese flyingIn their book The Heart of Change, John Kotter and Dan Cohen outline eight steps for leading change within an organization. I have adapted their framework for leading change within the church which I will outline in this blog (an extended version of this content is available through video on MinistryLift's YouTube channel). This entire process is one that must be bathed in prayer as we seek to discern and surrender ourselves to God’s priorities.

1. Increase a Sense of Urgency

People are unlikely to engage in significant change initiatives unless they feel an urgency to do so. Crises can help people realize that change is necessary, but this isn’t the only way to ignite a sense of urgency. You can also do this by communicating a compelling vision and sharing stories that motivate people to take action.

2. Build a Guiding Team

The purpose of this step is to pull together a group of people who have enough capacity and credibility within the congregation to implement the necessary change. One of the key roles of this team is to facilitate widespread participation in the change discussions. The extent to which people engage meaningfully in the process will contribute to their long-term commitment to the plan (and their willingness to make sacrifices to implement it).

3. Get the Right Vision