Discipleship | Part 4

Other posts in the series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Process Continued


As individuals are involved in my life and ministry, they are able to see how I am engaging in these disciplines myself, and applying them to life and ministry.  The consistent feedback I’ve gotten is that discipleship is more “caught, than taught”, and this happens through demonstrating a faithful life of obedience.  This means that I am inviting individuals into my daily routine and demonstrating how I manage my life, that I am inviting people into my preparation for a teaching session so they can see how I teach, that I am inviting them into my home so they can see how I discipline my children.  I want my disciples to know the people I am spending time with and reaching out to, and watch how I interact.


This is a necessary component of discipleship, and I think the piece that most naturally will develop replication at the end.  The reason delegation is important is because it leads to ownership of real decisions.

I generally like to hand over ministry early, as it provides an excellent learning opportunity.  In my opinion, people learn best in a “sink or swim” opportunity, and it also provides a great opportunity for supervision and feedback.


Supervision is less about management and primarily about giving ownership and providing feedback.  Empowerment is the end game, and therefore my aim is to not create dependency, but create opportunity for ownership.

I think the hardest part of supervision is not encouragement, but speaking difficult corrections and rebukes when they are needed.  Most of us are conflict-avoiders, so our natural tendency is to shy away from correction, but I genuinely believe nothing could be more crippling to a disciples development than being convinced they are doing things perfectly when they are not.  It is irresponsible to avoid difficult conversations because it hamstrings the development of a person.


I expect the reproduction process to begin early on.  If 2 Timothy 2:2 is the pattern, my faithfulness to the gospel is directly linked to the faithfulness of individuals whom I disciple.


Discipleship | Part 3

Other posts in the series: Part 1, Part 2

In this post, I’m going to focus on the process of discipleship.  That is, over time, what does the relationship look like in stages.  This is the basic pattern subscribed in The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman, which is an excellent book I would recommend to anyone.



When I am beginning to consider another discipleship relationship, I am specifically looking for faithfulness, humility, availability and teachability.

There is a principle in church planting movements that is often counter-intuitive, but I believe it holds true in most contexts: disciple the receptive.  That is, invest in people who demonstrate the characteristics I mention above (2 Timothy 2:2), as they are the most likely to reproduce disciples and continue the chain of reproduction.

I generally look for individuals who have been serving faithfully over a course of about 6 months within an area of ministry that I am leading, and also who have demonstrated a willingness to put into place teaching they have already received from other sources (pulpit, equipping classes, etc.).


I intentionally begin spending time with the people I am interested in discipling, and early on spend time with them in groups and as individuals.  I generally try to get them more involved and leading in a ministry I am involved in, as it provides the opportunity to be in proximity.

Secondly, I like to have groups meet in our home, that way they have the opportunity to see my family interact, and also makes my home a place that people have in common and are more likely to spend time there.


This is an official time where I formally commit to the person, and ask them for a formal commitment to discipleship with me. With college students, I typically ask for a 6 month commitment, at which point we will re-evaluate the relationship.  With non-students, I have asked for a year long commitment, followed by re-evaluation.


I focus primarily on the Doctrine and Life/Character components in this phase.  I tend to teach doctrine, and focus on the disciplines of prayer, reading of Scripture, and evangelism.  With my most recent group, we began by implementing the daily discipline of REAP, studied through SHAPE material, and then proceeded to Systematic Theology.

With groups, I also like to develop ministry together, as it gives the opportunity to discover individuals giftings, as well as unify around a common objective.

I’ll finish with the latter part of the process in a post soon…


Discipleship | Part 2

As I mentioned in the first post, Matthew 28:18-20 presents a succinct calling to discipleship, and forms the basis of my methodology.  In this post, I’m going to give the overview of how I pursue discipleship in practice.


First and foremost, I disciple in groups, and secondly, we meet formally on a weekly basis.  Lastly, I ask the people that I am investing in to serve in a ministry I am serving so we are walking alongside one another in context of service, and therefore are spending more time together than once per week.

When thinking about an individual, I am seeking to apply the centrality of Jesus in three areas of life:


If we are teaching to obey Jesus’ commands, we must first know Him. I typically work through Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology with the individuals I am discipling, and have found that it is a great way to develop a solid foundation and common language as we move forward together through life.

Most of the “teaching” I do focuses on processing and application, asking questions that direct applying doctrine to worship, prayer and evangelism.


This area focuses on the personal application of Jesus’ teachings, and the personal disciplines that follow.

For obedience to Jesus’ commands, I think George Patterson summarizes the basic commands well:

  1. Repent, believe and receive the Holy Spirit
  2. Be baptized
  3. Celebrate Communion
  4. Show love by serving the needy, forgiving others, and praising God
  5. Pray
  6. Give
  7. Teach disciples to obey Jesus

I primarily use the REAP method of daily time in Scripture, and have found that alternating weeks of Systematic Theology and simply sharing REAP as a group on the other week gives a good rhythm to our time.

The REAP time is also used for confession, prayer and accountability for these basic commands (I also encourage smaller accountability in pairs that meet weekly).


This area focuses on the external application of the teachings of Jesus, and more specifically how the person is applying them into ministry.

This area is much less formalized because I tend to do it more intuitively, but I generally focus on personal disciplines like time management, finances, etc. and ministry skills like teaching, administration and others (I tend to focus on the ones I am gifted in…probably need to grow in that area).

I find that these conversations naturally happen as I am serving alongside the people I am discipling and I have the opportunity to observe them in ministry.  The key to doing it well is giving ownership to ministry, provide some oversight in the planning and execution, and then providing feedback after the particular task has been done.

In the next post, I’ll focus on the basic process of discipleship, but until then, how do you practice discipleship?


Discipleship | Part 1

As I mentioned previously, I had the opportunity to speak on a panel at The Austin Stone’s Summer Conference called “The Kingdom is at Hand”, and the panel was a breakout for the practice of discipleship within the church.

It was a little surreal to be sitting on a panel with Josh Patterson and Carrie Langemeier, but I had a great time with them.  After the panel, I thought it would be a good idea to write a few posts on my practice of discipleship.


The clearest call to discipleship is found in The Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20:

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

This verse gives us five very specific things:

  1. The imperative command: make disciples, or learners of Jesus
  2. The context of discipleship: “Go”, which is not an imperative, but more likely “going”
  3. The methods of discipleship: baptism and teaching to obey Jesus’ commands
  4. The scope of discipleship: panta ta ethne or all the people groups
  5. The power for discipleship: Jesus’ power and presence

This is the basis for my pattern of discipleship.  I am seeking to make people obedient learners of Jesus, by His power, as I am pursuing His calling on my life, who have a desire for His glory to the ends of the earth.

I’ll flesh out what that looks like a little more practically in a few more posts.

What is your foundation as you are discipling others?

austin stone discipleship leadership

Discipleship | The Austin Stone Summer Conference

I’m on a panel called “Making Disciples in the Church” for The Austin Stone’s Summer Conference.

Below are the questions I’m being asked (phrased from the point of a facilitator).

Section 1

  • How did you start making disciples?
  • How did you find the person you are discipling?
  • What prompted you to be intentional with that person?
  • How did you do it?
  • What did you say?
  • What were the requirements on that person? Expectations?
  • How did you ‘disciple’ them?
  • What did the actual day in and day out with that person look like? How long?
  • What was the result?
  • How do you judge the success of that?

Section 2

  • How do you identify people to be intentional with?
  • Where should I look to find these people?
  • Do I need to be in a discipleship relationship myself?
  • What’s the balance between building relationship and speaking truth?
  • What if it doesn’t seem to be working out?
  • What if they are totally different from me?
  • Where’s the line between grace and discipline?
  • What do you actually ‘do’ with them?
  • How intentional do I have to be?
  • How do you make a disciple if someone doesn’t want to be a disciple?
  • When and how do I utilize off-ramps?

What would your responses be? I’ll post mine soon…