THE ADVENTURE OF DISCIPLING OTHERS is a flexible resource that will equip disciples to disciple other people. The goal of this material is to contribute to the development of spiritual generations through a life-to-life ministry of discipling. It will help a third generation of disciples to emerge that is central to an intentional disciplemaking community. Once these people become established, they’ll have the heart, vision, and skill to intentionally disciple others whether the context is a small group or individual.
(If you’re not familiar with some of these terms, you’ll learn more about them as you read on.)
In the illustration at right, the first person in this process is the new discipler. New disciplers are the link to a new generation of disciples as they seek to pass on to others what they’ve discovered in their walk of faith. The new discipler is critical in developing a spiritual heritage that reproduces.
The second person in the triad is the new believer. New believers who are becoming mature disciples are the new generation. They’re growing in their relationship to Christ as disciples in the context of a supportive community. Each person at this stage of maturity is establishing a personal faith relationship with Christ that is foundational, lifelong, and intimate.
The third person in this triad is the coach—the one who assists the new discipler as he or she disciples others. A coach in this concept of generations is much like a grandparent in a physical family. He or she is primarily focused on helping the discipler be successful. The coach, discipler, and growing disciple form a spiritual unity promoted in Paul’s ministry through Timothy (see 2 Timothy 2:2).
The hope for this triad is that it will develop future generations of mature believers. As the growing disciple experiences the reality of a changed life through the model of the discipler, he or she will become a new discipler (new spiritual parent). This process develops an ongoing spiritual lineage that can reach the world. No one should be the last link in a spiritual chain.
We use the following working definitions throughout The Adventure of Discipling Others:
• Believer—someone who has come to personal faith in Jesus Christ
• Growing disciple—a believer who wants to mature as a disciple and is becoming established in his or her faith through the exercise of spiritual disciplines
• Disciple—an individual who has received foundational training and has become established in the principles and practices of following Christ
• New discipler—a disciple of Jesus Christ who actively shares his or her faith in the process of discipling others. A discipler carries out the Great Commission from Matthew 28:18-20.
• Coach—a discipler who trains and assists new disciplers as they disciple others
• Coaching cluster—a small group of new disciplers using The Adventure of Discipling Others with or without a coach
• Discipleship group—a small group of growing disciples
• Disciplemaking—the whole process or full spectrum of reaching the lost with the gospel, discipling people in their intimacy and walk with Christ, and equipping spiritual laborers and leaders
• Life-to-life—the dynamic of sharing the reality of Christ and the truth of Scripture through a personal relationship
• Intentional—done with purpose; a resolve to participate in discipleship and disciplemaking
• Spiritual multiplication—developing spiritual generations as modeled in 2 Timothy 2:2
In the generational concept found in 2 Timothy 2:2, each role represents the following:
• The coach represents the first generation (Paul)
• The new discipler represents the second generation (Timothy)
• The growing disciple represents the third generation (faithful men and women)
The Adventure of Discipling Others includes some basic assumptions. We realize that some of these may not fit your situation, and you’ll have to adjust your expectations as you implement this material.
The new discipler has a solid, personal walk with Christ. He or she has experienced the reality of what is to be passed on to others. The new discipler has firsthand experience with the tools and materials that he or she will use to help others. While this person may not feel adequate or competent, he or she is comfortable modeling a walk with Christ.
During the sessions in this book, we encourage the new discipler to maintain three discipleship life skills: devotional time, Scripture memory, and outreach. We assume that each new discipler has the knowledge to carry out these activities, yet he or she needs encouragement and accountability.
New disciplers are eager to minister in the lives of others. They have a heart for people and a desire to see others mature. During the process of using The Adventure of Discipling Others, this heart and vision will grow and become grounded more in Scripture.
Disciplemaking is best learned in the context of actual ministry. Discipling others isn’t a classroom skill. Disciplers must combine knowledge with actual experiences of ministering to others. Each new discipler should have at least one person to disciple during the learning period. Some leaders are willing to function as mentor-coaches for new disciplers. These coaches must be influencers who have the heart, vision, and skills of a discipler. But as coaches, they assume the role of grandparents rather than parents as they help the new disciplers.
New disciplers need to be willing to commit at least one year to an on-the-job learning process. This means they have or find the freedom in their schedule and responsibilities to give their time and attention to investing in at least one person.
We’ve tried to weave four strands of concentration throughout The Adventure of Discipling Others.
1. DISCIPLEMAKING VISION
The first strand has to do with developing a solid biblical vision for disciplemaking. Vision is like the seed of the future tree. The Adventure of Discipling Others will help ground new disciplers in a lifelong conviction for discipling others. Regardless of their gifting and responsibilities, they’ll develop a heart and vision for discipling others that will permeate their understanding of God’s call on their lives. They’ll come to understand that the heart of the Great Commission is disciplemaking, and that the key to disciplemaking is a committed discipler.
2. MINISTERING LIFE-TO-LIFE
The second interwoven strand is life-to-life ministry. A life-to-life ministry is more than passing on knowledge. It’s more than meeting as a small group or one to one. A life-to-life discipler shares the reality of Christ and the truth of Scripture through a personal relationship that includes authenticity and transparency.
Few people will have a platform ministry of teaching or preaching. Others will lead small groups. But everyone can have a life-to-life ministry. The Adventure of Discipling Others develops the understanding and skills people need for this critical ministry dynamic.
3. SPIRITUAL POWER
The third strand is reliance on God’s resources. Transformation occurs as we complement what God is doing in the lives of those we minister to. Staying in step with God and His Spirit is an essential part of disciplemaking ministry. Without reliance on God, our own endeavors are useless. Spiritual power comes as we grasp the resources of God—faith, prayer, His promises, the Holy Spirit—and are willing to see the reality of the spiritual warfare we’re engaged in.
4. LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
The final strand is creating a learning atmosphere in the context of community and the mutual support of others. Maintaining core discipleship skills enables disciplers to abide in Christ and model discipleship. Having others to share with and challenge us keeps the cutting edge sharp. An environment of accountability provides encouragement, and support helps each of us strive for excellence. That’s why we will be referring you to your cluster group frequently.
Disciplers model and experience these four strands as they become equipped to disciple others. These same four are also key to the discipler’s own ministry. The discipler will modify the content but needs to create the same environment with growing disciples.
Finally, these important strands are not treated independently in The Adventure of Discipling Others. We’ve tried to integrate them and weave them throughout the material. They’re not stand-alone topics, but are meant to be an environment that needs to be continually cultivated and experienced.
Maturing disciples who are established in the basics of the Christian life and now desire to help others become established as disciples. They desire to become intentional about reproducing their life of faith in the lives of others. They desire to see new Christians follow Christ and personalize the Great Commandment and Great Commission.
Disciplemaking leaders who want to develop and coach new disciplers. Coaches may be leaders of small groups or a small-group ministry, or are helping maturing disciples. They could be pastors or lay leaders who are developing multiplying ministries. This material will help them understand discipling at a deeper level so they can successfully train new disciplers.
Small-group leaders who’ve taken their group through a discipling course like The Navigators’ 2:7 Series can use The Adventure of Discipling Others as the next phase of training. The leaders now become coaches who enable the new disciples to begin their own discipling ministries. These new disciplers have already experienced the disciplemaking process and are familiar with the basic tools for discipling others.
Small-group leaders who want to add a more focused discipling component to their existing small group. These leaders have already established a small-group community, which may include some Bible study. They’ll be able to complement their existing ministries with intentional, individual discipling as they lead the small group.
Many small-group leaders develop on the job by leading a small group with (or without) training in small-group dynamics. Few receive mentoring in how to intentionally develop disciples within the group. The Adventure of Discipling Others focuses on developing disciples one at a time through the context of life-to-life. The small group is a supplement to the disciplemaking process. Using The Adventure of Discipling Others doesn’t require a person to lead a small group. However, it will help people who are small-group leaders to focus on individual development as they lead their groups.
Leaders of small-group ministries. The Adventure of Discipling Others is ideal for use in the context of a small-group leaders’ training program. After being taught basic small-group dynamics, group leaders can learn how to become more intentional in bringing about maturity in the lives of those within their small groups. A monthly training format can assist the ongoing development of a church’s small-group leaders.
This material is arranged to allow for flexibility in the training and development of new disciplers. The structure of twelve sessions forms the heart of the training process. You can find additional material in the Leader’s Guide at www.navigators.org/CDM/ADO.
As coaches become more familiar with the material, they may make adjustments that will more adequately meet the needs of their new disciplers. The recommended twelve-session plan is a starting point; it’s not intended to be rigid. Coaches can modify it to meet their needs and the needs of those involved with them.
The core program recognizes that each discipler has a limited amount of time to invest in ministry. Life for the average person in our culture is extremely busy and complex. Carving out time to invest in others in addition to receiving training requires a delicate balance. We suggest that groups complete the first four training sessions weekly, then do the following eight sessions monthly. This makes Module 1 important.
During the final eight sessions, disciplers can meet weekly with their potential disciples. In addition, they’ll meet monthly with their cluster group of new disciplers. This total structure involves a nine-month ministry period that easily fits into a calendar or school year.
Each training session uses a combination of tools, including a Bible study that group members need to prepare in advance, article(s), and “Tips for Discipling,” all of which disciplers need to read before the subsequent training session. In addition to the Bible studies and articles, each discipler should maintain three basic spiritual disciplines:
• A personal daily devotional life
• Scripture memory
• A witness among the lost
The format of each training session provides both the structure for sharing these disciplines and the personal accountability to keep maintaining them.
1. New disciplers must:
• Attend the two- to three-hour training sessions
• Fully prepare homework assignments
• Meet regularly with at least one growing disciple
• Maintain their own personal walk with Christ
2. During each learning session, the group will:
• Discuss the assigned material
• Discuss ministry progress and development
• Share from their personal walks as disciples around three core disciplines:
• Pray together
3. In addition to maintaining their personal walks with Christ, the group members are required to spend two hours in preparation. While some may spend more time, this is a general guideline.