As a leader, you lead people into a safe environment by showing them what one looks like.
One of the key components to Disciple Making is a Relational Environment. This kind of environment is essential to creating those deep relationships where growth and maturity can happen. Relationship with God and with each other is what Jesus states as the commandment that all the law and the prophets rests upon. (Matt. 22:40)
At Real Life Ministries, we equip our leaders with a tool to help them create those relational environments. We call it the 12 Guidelines For Small Group Discussions. Watch the video below to see what Jim Putman has to say about this, and then download your free PDF of the guidelines!
Without the presence of God in the conversation, no discipleship process will work."
John 5:19 English Standard Version (ESV)
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
This is not a new idea. But it may need a new application. Making disciples is a life long pursuit for me and for many of us who work in vocational ministry. I often find myself in conversations about disciple making and how we can accomplish the mission of “Reaching the world for Jesus, one person at a time.” I love these talks and I love the passion with which men and women attack this topic. It is a joy for me to see people everywhere whole-heartedly sold out to God’s Kingdom, His work, and His results.
There is a nuance to this conversation that is subtle on the surface but profound in execution that I would like to offer here that will hopefully empower each of us in helping others become everything that God intended them to be. It is not flashy, but it will change everything about how we develop and lead disciples to make disciples.
“What’s your process?” I get this question at least twice a week and usually much more. How do we make disciples? And how do we program for maximum disciple making effectiveness? And how should we staff for disciple making? And how should we budget for disciple making? And what should we teach in your small groups or classes – or sermons? These are all good questions. And they are helpful. Wrestling with these topics will help a church become better at facilitating disciple makers that are making disciples.
But therein lies the rub. While we have set the church up structurally to succeed we haven’t necessarily given the proper tools and attitudes for a person to be able to succeed at making disciples. So, what about our “SCMD” process? It is also helpful. It helps me understand how people mature and develop. And it gives me a way to answer 3 very fundamental questions about disciple making: where are they, what do they need, and where can they go to get it?
But there is something below the surface here that doesn’t get enough attention. In the moment of the conversation – the real arena of making disciples – am I aware enough of what God is doing in that moment to be able to respond to His leading? I told you, it isn’t flashy. But this may very well be the single most important part of making disciples. Without the presence of God in the conversation, no process will work. And if I am dialed into the Holy Spirit’s work in the moment, perhaps whatever process we use can be effective. I just wonder if sometimes in our making of disciples, we get lost in strategizing and programming and branching and growing and we miss the amazing presence of God in the moment. I know I struggle to stay focused on that.
It takes a different level of engagement in the conversation for me. It takes a different kind of questions. It takes a different commitment to walking the journey with others, regardless of our process.
Processes aren’t bad. They are necessary and can be very useful. But the very thing that gives us power for living, wisdom for making decisions, and awareness of how we can grow in Christ is the Holy Spirit living and working in us. I just wonder if we don't sometimes want process at the expense of relationship – with God and others. And maybe those relationships were the point to begin with.
Next time you are in a “disciple making” conversation, try being fully engaged and present with the person and the Holy Spirit. See what happens. It may very well change everything that you thought about how to make disciples well.
Aaron Couch: Lead Coach at Real Life Ministries, Moscow/Pulman
Interested in hearing about our DiscipleShift 1 Training? Click HERE
Scroll down to watch video of Jim Putman discussing this topic
Disciple making is more than simply sharing information - it is sharing and modeling the transformation the Jesus brings to a life.
We recognize that a Christian is to be characterized by love for God and others, and yet so often we teach this in such a way that people cannot see it lived out and therefore have difficulty implementing it in their lives.
Near the end of Jesus' earthly ministry, He was walking with His disciples and they were arguing with each other. After all this time with Jesus, they were still fighting over who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. They were stuck in pride.
Have you ever thought about what He must have been thinking as He heard them? Imagine Him thinking, 'You know what - I need to preach a three-part sermon series on humility.' No.. not that He didn't preach about humility, He had done so.
But now, Jesus did something more. When he got to the house where they would eat the Last Supper, He wrapped a towel around His waist and washed their feet. He then told them that the Son of Man had not come to be served but to serve.
Jesus didn't preach a sermon - He preached through modeling in relationship. And in doing so He gave them an unforgettable picture of humility.
Jesus taught thousands of people during his earthly ministry - but He only discipled 12. And 12 disciples was enough to start the spread of the good news across the entire earth.
When we disciple someone following Jesus' model, we do it in proximity, in relationship. Because Jesus was walking along with His disciples, he gained insight to their hearts and maturity level through simply listening to them.
Disciple making is more than simply sharing information - it is sharing and modeling the transformation that Jesus brings to a life. When we are walking through life together in relationship with those we are discipling, we can see how they act and react in everyday life. We can see their level of maturity displayed in real life situations. We get to know who they really are - not the answers they give in a class, but the answer evidenced in times of testing.
Watch the video below to hear Jim Putman briefly address this topic from his book "The Power Of Together"
For more on this topic - read The Power Of Together by Jim Putman.
After all - Jesus didn't say "my church wins" or "your church wins".
Is the church of today winning? In order to determine if the Church is winning, we must define what a winning church looks like. It is not enough to say that Jesus' church wins, we need to determine what makes a church His church.
After all - Jesus didn't say "my church wins" or "your church wins". He said that His Church wins. Jesus gave us a mission to make disciples.
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
- Matthew 28:19-20
During his time on earth, Jesus gave us a model of disciple making to follow. When we look at Jesus' model, we see 5 key components that he used to make disciples. At Real Life Ministries, we have used those components as we disciple and train others to disciple.
5 Key Components
Biblical Foundation for Relationship:
The Bible teaches that we are designed to be in relationship with God first and foremost, and secondly we are designed to be in relationship with others. The purpose of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus, who can make disciples of Jesus. We do this with the understanding that relationship is the key vehicle.
Intentional Leader:This leader understands that part of their role is to reach the lost, make disciples of Jesus and create Christ centered environments where disciple making can happen. They understand where a person is spiritually and what is needed to help them grow.
Relational Environment:This is a group of 3-18 people, facilitated by a leader who is intentionally modeling spiritual fruit. (love, joy, etc) The people involved are doing life together with a kingdom mindset. The relationships go beyond the small group time, they move from strangers to friendship. These relationships press into areas of privacy, transparency and vulnerability.
Reproducible Disciple Making Process:This is the process for developing people towards Christ likeness. This includes three parts. "My Part" (the disciple) "Their Part" (the disciplee'), and "God's Part". This leader understands the 5 stages of spiritual growth. They can identify where a person is spiritually, and help them mature and grow at each stage of the spiritual growth process.
Church Alignment:There are 4 key areas of alignment to equip the church in it's purpose of making disciples of Jesus.
It means a shift from program to purpose.This shift must take place before a church can fully develop into a disciple making church.
In the short video clip below - Blake Whiteman addresses DiscipleShift 1 Training attendees about these 5 Key Components -
If you are interested in hearing more on this, consider bringing your church team and leaders to a DiscipleShift1.
Find out more here.
An intentional leader knows how to create an environment that is conducive to learning and spiritual growth"
So, what exactly is an “intentional leader?” A good example is a successful sports coach that, year after year, produces national championship winning teams. This coach knows his/her particular game inside and out, from the rules to the fundamentals.
Jesus was the greatest coach in history. He knew how to intentionally prepare His disciples to go out and make disciples of others that are successful in reproducing an effective and rapidly growing church.
As a Christian having influence over others, you share a similar responsibility. Whether you are a parent discipling your children, the leader of a small group, or a pastor leading a church, God has called you to be an intentional leader and coach others through the discipleship process.
Here are a few attributes that every successful leader must have.
1. Know the game.
In order to be an effective intentional coach, we must first know the game. We have to know how the world works, the challenges we face and who the enemy is. In the end, our goal is to develop a biblical worldview and then help those we disciple to have a biblical worldview as well.
2. Know the strengths and weaknesses of your players.
Good coaches not only know their game, they know their players’ strengths and abilities too. They are able to connect a player to the right position where the player will be most effective and contribute to the success of the team.
In the same way, intentional disciple-makers must be able to discern where their disciples are as they progress through the stages of their own spiritual journey. This requires being in relationship with them, similar to the relationship between parent and child.
3. Know how to create an intentional environment for learning:
An intentional leader knows how to create an environment that is conducive to learning and spiritual growth. This environment must include transparency, accountability, and a guided process that allows someone to watch, learn and practice new habits.
For more on this topic, watch Jim Putman explain his view on intentional leadership in his own words in the short video below:
You can order Real Life Discipleship or one of our other disciple making books by clicking HERE.
By taking what we know in our head, and making changes in our character (our heart), we can help make and train others to be disciples."
A Disciple Knows and Follows Christ
From Jesus’ point of view, a disciple is one who follows Him. After Jesus performed a miracle when he helped the fishermen catch two boatloads of fish, Peter, John and the others decided to follow Him because they felt that they might be in the presence of the one who had come to change the world.
As the disciples traveled with Jesus, they came to truly understand who He was after witnessing the many miracles He performed. Jesus walked on water (Matthew 14:22-27), fed thousands of people from a small lunch (Mark 4:30-44), and calmed the sea with a word (John 6:1-13). They realized that Jesus was The Christ, the Promised One who would fulfill the prophecies.
The disciples also understood that they were under His authority. They were to follow behind Jesus. He is leader; they are followers.
For us to become disciples, we must understand that we are positioned behind Him too. He leads; we follow. We are under His authority.
Today’s Christian knows that Jesus died for redemption of our sins. Jesus is our Savior. But many mistakenly believe that Jesus must also follow them and grant all of their wishes and desires. They fail to recognize that Jesus is Lord. Again, we are under His Authority.
Making the decision to follow Christ requires that we make a change in our thinking, at the head level. Just as the original disciples did, we must decide to make Him our head (our authority).
A Disciple is One Who is Being Changed by Christ
Jesus made it clear to his disciples when he invited them to follow Him that he would change them, make them into something. He wanted to shape these men to be His representatives and become His messengers to deliver the good news to the world.
After Jesus gave the disciples His Words to shape them into messengers, he gave them the Holy Spirit that produced the likeness of Christ in them. This change in them made it possible for them to bring change in others.
It works the same way for us. By taking what we know in our head, and making changes in our character (our heart), we can help make and train others to be disciples.
A Disciple is Committed to the Mission Of Christ
The cause of Christ is people. Once we have the Holy Spirit in us, we care about what He cares about.
As we come to know and follow Christ, we come to view people from a different perspective. Instead of judging them, we reach out and care for them in love as He did.
Knowing that there are only two types of people: the saved and unsaved, the apostle Paul said that Jesus’ love compels us (2 Corinthians 5:14). We want to see unbelievers reconciled to God through Jesus. We are partners with Him in this mission. We are to use our hands, abilities, and gifts for the Lord in His mission to save the world.
To truly understand what it means to be a disciple in Christ, we must understand that we have to experience a life-change in three areas of our being:
Once we recognize and experience these life-changes, we can become effective “fishers of men”.
You can read more about this topic in Real Life Discipleship by Jim Putman.