The following was originally posted on my blog, but I wanted to share it here as well for encouragement for those of you considering investing in or being involved in intentional discipleship.
Back in 2014, I wrote about how our church was in the process of rethinking how we do discipleship. At the time, we had a box on our Sunday response card that said “I’d like to be discipled.” When someone checked that box, we attempted to pair them with someone in our church who would meet weekly with them to lead them through recommended books on growing in their faith.
We became overwhelmed with the requests and were unable to sustain that model. As we gathered to rethink things, we created a small group (3-4) discipleship model which we call D28. You can read more about it here.
This semester, we overhauled the material again, and we’ve offered participants (over 60) a two-track approach. We’ve studied Ephesians together, using various study guides (leader’s choice) and we’ve focused the D28 materials on two foundational Christian practices:
- How to have a quiet time (Time Alone With God)
- How to share your faith
My group meets each Thursday morning at 6:00. It’s earrrrrrly. But after we make coffee and get a few swigs in us, we are quite the chatter boxes. I’ve really enjoyed the guys in it, which have consisted of a CFO, a dentist and a campus ministry staffer. We have used Scott Duvall’s book Getting the Most Out of Ephesians as our study text. While I may be facilitating the group, the guys in the group contribute just as much as I do, and it’s been rewarding for me to be a participant just as much as a leader in the group.
One of the things I love about how our D28 groups are structured now is that they focus on scripture. Previously, we were assigning four books (all great books), but we discovered that it was hard to get participants to read them all. So we shortened the D28 term (from 5 months down to 10 sessions) and offer a second D28 term for those who would like to continue. We have read through Ephesians this term while simultaneously teaching the two practices.
During the 10 weeks, we offer two D28 Labs – these are 90 minute breakouts which we’ve offered on Saturday mornings. They focused on the two Christian practices mentioned above.
As our church has focused on being intentional with our discipleship ministry, we’ve seen fruit. People who were previously participants are now leading groups, and we emphasize the importance of being a disciple-maker from the very first session. We want to cast the vision early that what you receive should be passed on.
- What does discipleship conjure up in your mind? What do you envision when you hear that word?
- Have you ever been involved in intentional discipleship – either one-on-one or in a small group?
- What materials have been most helpful to you in your Christian growth?
- Who has made the most impact in your life as a follower of Jesus?
In Colossians 1:28, Paul says, “Him [Jesus] we proclaim, warning and admonishing everyone so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” THAT is the role of the Christian leader – to urge everyone in his/her influence toward maturity in Christ. We should expect and insist on Christian growth. This means increasing faith, hope, and love in a believer’s life. Discipleship is not for a few optional elite but for every follower of Jesus (everyone).
Last thing… back when we were still trying to match people up, we had a LOT of fun producing this video. While D-Harmony doesn’t exist, discipleship does… what’s your next step?