For any ministry to make disciples, it must develop a vision, determine values, develop a solid perspective, incorporate the methods to the process, and track the success of the plan. Churches and ministries who are not ultimately pointing its mission and vision to discipleship is not following Christ’s intentions of The Great Commission. Jesus’ command is that we are to preach and teach the gospel to everyone, make disciples of all nations, to be witnesses in Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. This paper will discuss how to start and measure the process of Discipleship and its success.
The vision of my ministry originally started out evangelizing to the lost who I ran across or God opened divine appointments with, through the corporate marketplace. Once these people came to Christ, I would refer them to a local church to be discipled. Unfortunately, not every new believer that I referred was ever discipled, which defeated the purpose of the referral. Therefore, this new plan will incorporate how my ministry will function as not only a marketplace evangelist, but as a disciple maker.
Within my marketplace evangelism ministry, my vision was to take the gospel into the corporate world and lead others to Christ. Although this has worked well in people coming to Christ, my vision was very narrow and did not encompass the discipleship of the new convert. I failed in making sure that those new converts were being discipled. Many times, I would refer the new convert to a local body, but follow through was not attempted by the local pastor since he was not involved in the conversion. I cannot let this occur again, therefore, my new vision is to continue to share the gospel in the marketplace as well as disciple the people come to Christ. If they live locally, I will disciple them to the point that they will start to do the same thing that I am doing. In other words, I will make disciples who make disciples. This vision must be based on biblical principles. According to Jim Putman, Bobby Harrington, and Robert E. Coleman, “As a team, develop the biblical vision for your church.”
As a team, the process of developing a vision will take some time and should be based on the Word of God. Our vision must really be God’s vision. In Matthew 28:19, Jesus said that we are to go and make disciples in all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This is God’s vision and we must incorporate it as our own. Although leading people to Christ is paramount, we take the responsibility to disciple them so that they will grow in the Word. We must stay engaged with them to get from the conversion experience to the next phase of becoming a disciple of Jesus. As they mature as followers of Christ, then they themselves can start to teach new converts how to live a life of Christ. If we are to reach the world, then we must reach the total person to unlock his or her kingdom potential. Aubrey Malphurs states, “A leader’s style reveals how he or she uses relational behaviors to influence followers to accomplish the ministry of God’s given mission (paraphrased).” It is through this relationship that we can influence disciples so that they will grow in God’s Word, developing their spiritual gifts, and maturing.
The leader of the ministry must be a shepherd and is key in how the ministry moves into its vision. This is to be done through prayer and needs to be in line with God’s vision. According to Putman et al., “As a team, we must develop a plan that works and then enlarge it.”
The vision of our ministry is to win the lost to Christ, teach them to become disciple makers, and send them out into the world to reproduce so that they will make disciples who make disciples. Implementing this new vision when the ministry is new will be easier as opposed attempting to implement if the ministry has been in business for years.
Our core values are based on fulfilling The Great Commission through evangelism and discipleship. We base this on Matthew 28:19 and Acts 1:8; Luke 14:26-28; Luke 14:33; John 8:31-32; John 13:35; John 15:5, 7-8; and Acts 13:52. Our values are based on biblical commandments and the understanding that we are here to worship God as well as make ourselves available for God’s vision and glory. We cannot fulfill The Great Commission without first knowing the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. Luke 14:6 states that we are to have a love of Christ, so radical, that any other love in comparison feels like hatred for others. Having a personal relationship with Jesus means that we must give up everything so that our will can be surrendered to God (Lk. 14:27). There is a cost of surrender and following God’s plan means that it may even cost us our lives (Lk. 14:28, 33). By staying in God’s Word, our hearts can be transformed into a life like Christ (John 8:31-32). In addition, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Paraphrased Rm. 10:17). If we truly are His disciples, then we are to love one another (Jn. 13:35). If we abide in Christ, we will know and ask for His will, so that fruit will be produced, and God will be glorified. Following Christ will lead us to being filled with joy and the Holy Spirit, which will produce the fruit of the Spirit (Acts 13:52).
Following these prescribed Scriptures lead us to determine our core values which are to become disciples by living our lives like Christ, studying God’s Word, and relying on the Holy Spirit to transform us. Through our worship of God, we will live our lives in community with others, living Christ’s love, servant leadership, modeling, and in relational mentorship. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “The Christian community thus lives its own life in the midst of the world, continually bearing witness in all it is and does that ‘the present form of this world is passing away’ (1 Cor. 7:31), that time has come short 1 Cor. 7:23), and that the Lord is near (Phil. 4:5).” We must live out our faith in the world to make a difference for Christ’s gospel and this can only be done through multiplication in an exponentially expanding world population. Fulfilling The Great Commission means that we all must have transformed hearts, be willing to give up everything, love Him with radical love, and follow Him by living and breathing Christ day in and day out. Our love for Christ must be so scandalous in contrast to any love, it would be hatred for the other. The way to change the world is to love the lost, pray for them, share the gospel with the neighbors across the street, and throughout our region, and invest in those new believers by living and having a relationship with them through discipleship.
Our most important ministry perspectives are evangelism and discipleship. We cannot have one without the other. The problem we had with our previous mission statement was that we only did evangelism, led others to Christ, and then tried to hand them off to other ministries who were not invested in our vision. We concluded that we had to continue the relationship with these new followers of Jesus Christ because if we did not, they may never mature in their walk with Christ. I remember one young lady accepted the Lord but never got connected with a local church body and ultimately fell back into sin, living and sleeping with her boyfriend. I believe that she wanted to change, but did not have another woman mentoring her in her walk with Christ. I went as far as calling this young lady’s sister as well as the sister’s pastor. It became evident that the pastor was not going to reach out or call this new Christian and attempt to get involved in her life. I have since come across this baby Christian who is still living in sin with her boyfriend. I somewhat feel as if I failed her by not being able to find a woman to disciple her. I never want this to happen again. Therefore, we are implementing discipleship as well. When I first started this ministry, I felt that God was calling me into evangelism, but it has become evident that I am being called into a more pastoral role with the focus of discipleship. I can no longer leave a new follower of Christ wondering, “What’s next?” Therefore, our ministry has taken a paradigm shift towards discipleship so that we can make disciples and teach them to lead others to Christ and then make disciples.
Dave Earley wrote about Thom Rainer and how Rainer shared conversations from people from other religions, who had converted to Christianity. According to Earley, Rainer states “that they all had one thing in common. They had all been actively loved to Jesus.” We cannot argue people into the faith, but we are called to love our neighbor. The best way to love our neighbor is to start an intentional relationship with them. We need to get to know them so that we can live our lives by investing in their lives. New Christians need a mentor to help them figure out what is next for them in their new walk with the Lord. According to Earley, “Relationships can be understood as bank accounts. Every positive interaction makes a deposit in that account while every negative encounter results in a withdrawal. We influence people most easily when there is a positive balance in the relational account.”
Jesus gave us two commandments and a commission. The first is called The Great Commandment taken from Matthew 22:36-40. We are to love God and love people. Jesus also gave The New Commandment taken from John 13:34, which we are to love one another. By loving one another, this provides proof that we are his disciples and are loving other disciples. Jesus then gave The Great Commission taken from Matthew 28:19-20, to make disciples in all nations. We are to baptize the new believers by immersion, teach them to observe and obey as well as be an example to them. Then we are to teach them Christ’s promise that he will be with us.
Some key terms which drive our ministry are Evangelism, Discipleship, Leadership, Gospel, Saints, and Pastor. Each of these terms are equally important in our focus on delivering the gospel as well as discipling the new convert.
In defining these terms, evangelism means that we are to take the gospel not only across the world but to the family across the street. It means that we are to live our lives for Christ and attempt to be like Christ in all our daily activities. People must come to Christ, repent, and have a heart transformation before we can disciple them. The next term is discipleship, which means being trained and mentored for the gospel. To be trained, one must have a disciple maker, who will teach the Word as well as live life among the new disciples. Disciple makers help the immature in Christ to become mature. The disciple makers main goal is to multiply the disciples who make disciples. The next term is the gospel, which is the “Good News” of Jesus, His death, and resurrection. Good Christian leadership is needed for the group to grow and remain focused on the vision and mission. A good leader may also be known as a pastor or shepherd. The last term is saints, which are the body of Christ.
“If we go back to the early church, we will see that there was a continual devotion to the Apostles teachings. The body would meet in house churches. They would pray for each other, break bread, fellowship, and worship and praise God. The Apostles would equip the saints by teaching all that Jesus had taught them. It was each member’s responsibility to grow in knowledge of who Jesus was and discover what their individual gifts were. The goal was to proclaim Christ, admonish every man, teach every man, present every man, and be complete in Christ.”
Dave Earley wrote, “People who are saved are then sent to tell others the good news about Jesus. So the process is an ongoing cycle: We are saved. Then we are sent to tell others how to be saved. In other words, if we are saved, we are missionaries. We must go and tell others.”
The vehicles which will drive the discipleship process will be to keep it simple. Since the ministry is currently comprised of my wife and I, there are no boards to approve any new changes. The ministry is currently funded through my business, which is the platform in which we operate. We do employ one Christian Customer Service Representative who has embraced the vision of our ministry and I would consider a mature Christian disciple maker.
The ministry is currently a 501(c)(3) and is operating under a different name. We are in process changing our legal documents and will be known as Marketplace Evangelistic Ministries. Once changed, we will bring on at least two other advisory board members for accountability.
Our organization is structured more like an organic ministry such as from the early church. Although we have no church building, we closely match Neil Cole’s Church 3.0 where our growth will be based on multiplication. Our ministry setting is in the marketplace and education will occur within our discipleship group. Our goal is to train others in discipleship so that we can send disciple makers out into the world to win souls for Christ and then disciple them into maturity.
According to Dempsey, “The church location is incarnational and lived out in the community. The evangelism is done by relational missional groups. Discipleship is mainly conducted in small groups with a focus on learning and mentoring. Intentional mentoring is the process within the community. What drives the ministry is discipleship and missional living. Worship is through the people in the community. Since we have no ordained pastor, the discipleship leader is the equipper and the teacher. Our training is to teach us how to lead missional groups.”
Small Group Philosophy
We have embraced the organic small relational group philosophy as presented by Earley and Dempsey as well as Putman et al. As we start to recruit and set up a small group, we will make it clear as to the spiritual reason for the group. Robert Coleman wrote,
“A group needs to know what it exists for. If not, it will probably wander aimlessly, which leads to frustration. A group in some measure will involve a component of discipleship, even if it’s just at a relational level of getting acquainted. There has to be a sense of mutuality, or else you don’t have a group. That relationship is the glue that holds it together.”
Within the small relational group, we will follow Coleman’s suggestion to pray for one another as well as commit to pray privately at least thirty minutes each day. We will also read at least two chapters of the Bible each day starting with the Gospels. We will attempt to memorize at least two verses each week. Following these instructions will help each of us develop a spiritual lifestyle individually as well as a group. To hold each other accountable, we will meet at least once every two weeks. Of course, the group must be Spirit-led to endure the spiritual warfare that will ultimately ensue as we set out to make a difference for Christ.
According to Dave Earley, there are five components of a discipleship group. The five components are Welcome, Worship, Word, Works, and Witness. When we start our group, we will open the group with a welcome. We will focus on one another through mingling in a social context. After about fifteen minutes, we will begin worship through prayer, thanksgiving, and praise. After about fifteen minutes of worship, we will get into God’s Word which will be a discussion-oriented Bible study with an emphasis on application. This will last about thirty minutes. Works will be the next topic of discussion. Where and how they will apply the Word of God to their own ministry in the coming week will be discussed. We will also focus on accountability. The last part of the group session will be witness, taking time to pray for the lost by name. We will also focus on strategic plans of evangelism. Our goal is to have everyone praying for lost persons each day and asking God to give us Divine appointments to witness for Him. Like Dempsey wrote, “Our leadership philosophy is to equip the disciple makers so that they can develop people to reach their full potential.”
We must also pray for one another. According to Dave Earley, “If you want to maximize your impact, prioritize your prayer life. Prayer is the most important task of the spiritual leader. Prayer provides insight. Prayer is our greatest spiritual weapon.” Henry Blackaby states, “More than any other single thing leaders do, it is their prayer life that will determine effectiveness.” One last emphasis on prayer is what S.D. Gordon wrote, “Prayer must be in Jesus’ name. The relationship of prayer is through Jesus. And the prayer itself must be offered in His name, because the whole strength of the case lies in Jesus.” Not only are we to pray for one another, but we are to teach our mentees to pray.
Calendar and Events
Our calendar to implement this new plan will start immediately. We will set up a small group to start the first Tuesday night in June 2018. Our initial group will consist of one other couple and will meet in our home. We will meet twice a month initially. As our group starts to grow, then we will set other events up to get to know new people.
Our budget will be determined by the need. Since my for-profit business will be initially funding the organization, there is no need to be concerned about funding at this time. Once the new 501(c)(3) has been changed and converted to the new name, then we can start to solicit for donations. All personnel will be volunteers and neither my wife nor I will accept a salary.
The curriculum will be Bible study based. We will utilize the following textbooks: Share Jesus Without Fear authored by William Fay; Share Jesus Without Fear New Testament Bible; DiscipleShift: Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples authored by Jim Putman, Bobby Harrington, and Robert E. Coleman, Disciple Making Is…: How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence authored Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey; Evangelism Is…: How to Share Jesus with Passion and Confidence authored by Dave Earley and David Wheeler; and the Holy Bible.
Our communication plans will be to send out announcements to our local church body, looking for people who are Christians who want to learn how to share their faith and then become mentors to those who they lead to Christ. We will also reach out to corporate Christians as well since this ministry is founded on marketplace evangelism. We are looking for a niche group that will be willing to do this ministry within the confines of corporate America, becoming marketplace evangelists and disciple makers.
Verifiers are confirmations of ministry success as well as indications of a calling. Verifiers are alignments to Scripture. If the ministry is aligned to God’s Word, then it will be successful and will be ordained by God. If it is not in alignment with Scripture, then it most likely is not God’s will to pursue it. The ministry must be matched to the purpose of making disciples. According to Putman et al., “There are five key components for alignment which are: a clear goal of discipleship, an intentional leader who makes disciples, a biblically relational environment, a reproducible process, and a supporting organization.” If the ministry has these five components, then it will be in alignment with Scripture.
Win/Grow/Send is an excellent way to recruit people to become disciples who make disciples. According to Dave Earley, there are three stages to this process. The first is Stage One, Help Seekers Become Believers. In this stage, the disciple maker is utilizing evangelism to witness to the lost and helping them come to Christ. Once the new believer accepts Christ as his or her savior, then the disciple maker is ready to move them into Stage Two. Stage Two is Help Believers Become Disciples. The disciple maker is developing the new believer by praying for them. The disciple maker, who will be referred to as the leader from this point forward, will invest time in the disciple. The leader will instruct the disciple and discuss Jesus’ commands. The leader will get the new disciple into a small relational group so that he or she may be encouraged by other disciples. Inspiring the new disciple will encourage them to take the next step into discipleship ministry. This will lead into the Third Step of Help Disciples Become Disciple Makers. The leader will train as well as build a relationship with the new disciple maker by interceding for him or her in their daily activities. The leader will involve them in on the job training, so that they can go out on their own and lead others to Christ and then disciple their own new converts. All three stages are known as Win-Grow-Send. This is the exact model we plan on using within my own ministry context. When our group starts producing other disciples, that is when I know that I was successful in multiplying myself in ministry.
In conclusion, we have discussed the five processes of making disciples. First, we must have a vision. Next, we must determine what our values will be? The third process are our views on ministry. Fourthly are the vehicles in which we start our ministry. The fifth and final step is the measurement of success. We must determine our verifiers.
Our ministry will be based on an organic church model. Although we are not a church ministry, we are a ministry of the body of Christ. By conducting ourselves like that of the early church, I believe that we can be more successful in winning more souls for Christ as well as taking on the responsibility of discipling new believers. In our previous encounters, once the lost came to Christ, we would refer them to a local body. Many times, the new convert either may not follow through with attending a local church or the pastor of the local church did not follow through on the referral. Since leading someone to Christ, I personally feel that it is our responsibility to continue the relationship and mentor the new convert in discipleship, unless they do not live in my area.
Teaching new believers how to live a life of Christ is paramount in retaining them in their new-found faith. This will be done through a relational small group platform of at least four people with a maximum of ten people. The intent of the small group is to share life together and building an intentional discipleship relationship with them. The small group could be considered a house church because the Word of God will be shared and new believers trained in the ways of Christ. The Bible will be the reference guide to Christian living.
My wife would need to be involved if the new convert were a woman as I want to make sure that there would be no chance of inappropriate situations occurring. My preferable group would be all men, but I have come to realize that women who come to Christ may not engage in the faith without the proper assistance from another woman.
As the small relational group grows in maturity, then we will utilize the Win, Grow, Send method. When the disciple is ready, we will send them out to reproduce themselves. He or she will start their own small relational group and we will be their spiritual parents, in that we can supervise them in their new ministry. The goal is to create new community and multiply new leaders and new groups. We want to make Great Commission Leaders who will lead evangelism teams, which can ultimately lead to church planting. I have not ruled out the possibility that God may be utilizing me as a catalyst to start a church plant with those that come to Christ under my ministry. Certainly, I can see that if my wife and I were involved in the harvest and the conversions to Christ, then we must not allow a new convert to fall backwards because they did not engage in a local body of Christ. Regardless of the failure of the receiving pastor for not engaging the new convert, I feel it is my responsibility to continue the relationship with each new convert, so that they will be discipled and taught how to live the life of Christ.
The measurement of ministry success will be determined in how many new converts are discipled and how many new groups are formed. The initial goal is to reproduce myself at least one time. If reproduction occurs, then I will have been successful, as no one knows what the power of one can accomplish when multiplication occurs?
Blackaby, Henry, and Richard Blackaby. Spiritual Leadership. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2001.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 4. Minneapolis, MN: First Fortress Press, 2003.
Earley, Dave. Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders. Chattanooga, TN: Living Ink Books, 2008.
Earley, Dave, and David Wheeler. Evangelism Is…: How to Share Jesus with Passion and Confidence. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2010.
Earley, Dave, and Rod Dempsey. Disciple Making Is… How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2013.
Gordon, S D. Quiet Talks on Prayer. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, 2003.
Liberty University DSMN 500. Lecture Notes: Discipleship Passages and Conclusions. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University, 2018.
—. Lecture Notes: What is a Disciple? Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University, 2018.
Malphurs, Aubrey. Being Leaders: The Nature of Authentic Christian Leadership. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2003.
Putman, Jim, Bobby Harrington, and Robert E Coleman. Disciple Shift: Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013.
 Jim Putman, Bobby Harrington, and Robert E. Coleman, DiscipleShift: Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 228.
 Ibid., 216.
 DSMN 500, Lecture Notes: What is a Disciple? (Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University, 2018), 1.
 Aubrey Malphurs, Being Leaders: The Nature of Authentic Christian Leadership (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003), 93.
 Putman, DiscipleShift, 220.
 DSMN 500, Lecture Notes: What is a Disciple?, 2018, 3.
 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 4: Discipleship (Minneapolis, MN: First Fortress Press, 2003), 250.
 Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is…: How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2013), 138.
 Earley and Dempsey, Disciple Making Is, 149.
 DSMN 500, Lecture Notes: Discipleship Passages and Conclusions (Lynchburg, VA: Liberty University, 2018), 1.
 DSMN, Lecture Notes: Discipleship Passages and Conclusion, 1-2.
 Dave Earley and David Wheeler, Evangelism Is…: How to Share Jesus with Passion and Confidence (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2010), 107.
 Earley and Dempsey, Disciple Making Is, 276-277.
 Earley and Dempsey, Disciple Making Is, 236-237.
 Putman, DiscipleShift, 185.
 Putman, DiscipleShift,185.
 Earley and Dempsey, Disciple Making Is, 150-151.
 Earley and Dempsey, Disciple Making Is, 237.
 Dave Earley, Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders (Chattanooga, TN: Living Ink Books, 2008), 1-11.
 Henry and Richard Blackaby, Spiritual Leadership (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2001), 151.
 S.D. Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., 2003), 113.
 Putman, DiscipleShift, 177-178.
 Earley and Dempsey, Disciple Making Is, 129.
Joseph T. Lee, Copyright © May 28, 2018, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC. All Rights Reserved.