On Making Disciples

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The church in the West is facing a crisis of discipleship. Every Christian should understand how to lead someone to Christ and help that person become a disciple of Jesus, but many don’t. Our over-reliance on sermons and books to transfer information has created believers that can consume information but not train others in following Christ.

As a house church planter with hopes of encouraging many others to plant house churches, I found out fairly early that this was a massive problem.  After a period of time struggling with this issue, I had a number of brothers reach out to me and encourage me to read Ordinary Hero by Neil Cole. We adopted the methods found in this book over the next couple of years and we’ve seen some fantastic changes.

Before I get into the methods, though, I think it’s important to talk briefly about why we adopted a set of methods. I wholeheartedly believe that the best way to disciple another believer is life on life discipleship. Jesus invited twelve men to follow Him and be with Him, thus producing some of the most powerful disciples that we know of. This process is never meant to replace that powerful form of discipleship. But Jesus encouraged us to make disciples and every time I read the word “make” I’m reminded that there is some kind of intentionality to it. Disciples aren’t made on accident. This process is how we give intentional time and space on the calendar for what should be happening throughout the rest of the week.

Our goal was not just to make disciples,though, but to make disciples who could make other disciples. Many times a strong personality can disciple someone through solely their lifestyle, but successive generations waned after the pattern of that lifestyle was lost. We didn’t just want to pass our knowledge of following Jesus to the next generation, but set up the next generation to pass it onto several generations after us.

This required a method that was simple and reproducible.  It was simple in that anyone with a Bible who could read would be able to participate and lead a group with very little training.  Because of the simplicity, someone who had participated in a group for a very short time could easily take the methods and start their own group. It was reporducible.  In fact, a lot of conversations I have with house church planters involves me talking through this process and emailing them the accountability questions. It’s easy to start with just a little guidance.

The process looks like this: a number of us meet in in groups of 2 or 3 of the same gender across our house church network weekly. Each of these people are reading the same 20-30 chapters of the Bible each week. They also ask each other accountability questions and pray for their lost friends and family each week.  When a new believer is added to the body, they are added to the “2&3” of whomever led them to Christ. When groups grow to four people, we create two new groups of two people who continue doing the same process. It’s how we practice mutual discipleship.

We’ll look more into each of the elements of the “2&3” in the coming days. Obviously there is no silver bullet for discipleship. No process will take an unwilling saint and make him or her the next apostle to the nations. But what we’ve found is when we get believers reading their Bibles together, confessing sin to and praying for one another, and praying for those they know to come to Jesus, growth in the Lord happens naturally. This growth strengthens the churches and creates disciples who can make disciples.

Photo Credit: CoffeeShopDiscipleship-8 by 23 Images Photography

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About traviskolder

Travis Kolder is a follower of Jesus, a husband, a father of five, an organic church planter, and a writer. He lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he serves as part of the Cedar Rapids House Church Network.

7 responses to “On Making Disciples”

  1. gunnarlarmstrong says :

    Travis:

    Thanks for writing from your heart and passion and experience. I honor your commitment and the fact that you have seen fruit as you have pursued creating disciples. As you no doubt picked up from my earlier comments, I am not big on methods. But, I agree that intentionality is key. Disciples are not made by accident. Whether you schedule times to get together and study the Bible, or you just take time to do it when you get together, you need to be intentional about it, or it just won’t happen.

    Gunnar

  2. Seeking better blessings says :

    I will have to look up that book! God has really been placing on my heart of going smaller and more intentional rather then larger and more general in the women’s ministry of our church. It is a little counter cultural to the current North American church ideals of bigger and better. But I feel it will lead to more involved and accountable discipleship that is outward focused, rather then a consumeristic inward focused mentality when it comes to bible studies. I am not saying big groups are bad, just willing to consider it may not be the best way of doing thing, just cause it is the usual way of doing things. Thanks the encouragement and for sharing!

    • traviskolder says :

      Thanks for the note! In my mind, God does so much in small things. You’re right, it is counter-cultural! But when we commit to doing well in the small things, God actually increases our impact. Glad this article was helpful for you. 🙂

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