My discipling toolbelt

Over the past year, there has been a lot of discussion about Jesus’ instructions to “make disciples.” Several church-planting and missional church email lists have been all about discipling lately. I’m excited about this, yet I sometimes fear that discipleship will be seen as another program to add to our churches and ministries.

tool-belt-2_l- 400wA few weeks ago some Ecclesia Network friends and I were sharing what we have been doing to disciple people in our churches. Discipling to me is the life on life process of training a person to live and think like Jesus in every area of life. While I know that discipling is not a “project,” I do think that there are certain skills, principles and mindsets that are helpful in making disciples of Jesus. Here are mine:

1) Overall, we are following 3DM’s training of discipling in “huddles” (groups of 4-8 people) as we multiply disciples, huddles and missional communities.  I’m attracted to 3DM’s framework because it’s reproducible. There are about a dozen key “Lifeshapes” and concepts that teach a foundational discipleship skill or principle.

2) A basic understanding of life-on-life in ministry and discipling in community. I have three main resources for this. First, a former IV staff wrote this great article on group based discipleship. (We often think discipling is about a one-on-one meeting in a coffee shop. It’s not.) Also, Robert Coleman’s Master Plan of Evangelism is all about discipleship. Evangelism is just the first few steps in discipling. Here are Part 1 and Part 2 of talks Coleman gave summarizing his book. My friend Lewie Clark also touches on this in his new book Imitating Jesus.

3) Prayer. I pray regularly for and with the people I’m discipling. This is a basic non-negotiable. I tell them that I prayed for them…through a text usually…or I ask what I can pray for them about that day. I do this fairly regularly. I also simply pray in person with people on the spot. Instead of saying “I’ll pray for you about that,” I’ll say “Can I pray with you about that right now?”

4) Basic inductive bible study. I want everyone I disciple have to have  basic working skill of reading the scriptures in context and hearing what God is saying to do.

5) Good question asking. A disciple-maker has to ask good open-ended questions. It’s important to debrief things going on in life asking, “What is God saying and what are you going to do next?” just in everyday conversations. The Circle Lifeshape is fantastic with this. Lewie’s book above has a a great list of questions to get conversations going.

6) Spiritual/life timeline. I like to work through people’s life-story, discerning key events that have shaped them for good or bad, helping them see what God might be doing in their life. Lewie’s book describes some of this and I’ve picked up quite a bit from prayer ministry training similar to theophostic prayer or Neil Anderson’s Bondage Breaker material. Bobby Clinton‘s leadership emergence theory has also influenced me here.

7) Investigative bible discussion. It’s important for not-yet disciples to interact with Jesus in the gospels themselves. I’m a big fan of IVCF’s GIG guide. (Also another intro here). David Watson uses a similar model in his Church Planting Movement training called Discovering God. It looks really good too.

8) Life transformation Groups from Neil Cole. I’ve only used an LTG a few times, but I see their value if you have 2-3 people you’re discipling.  (Huddle works best with 4+ people).

9) Proclaiming the good news together. There’s not a better discipling “tool” than actually doing ministry together, especially the ministry of proclaiming the good news among people who do not follow Jesus. Honestly, I’m still working on how this works in a city instead of a college campus. I haven’t seen any better discipling “tool” than simply doing ministry with people I’m discipling. Almost all of the above “tools” overlap with just doing ministry together.

Those are some of the tools in on my belt.  What “tools” do you rely on as you make disciples of Jesus?