Counter Intuitive Discipleship Values...

  • Go slow to go fast!
  • Outsiders raise up insiders - an inexperienced insider is more effective than a highly trained outsider
  • Focus on a few to reach many
  • Self-discovery learning in the Word is more powerful than instruction learning
  • Disciple people to conversion - don't wait to convert them before discipleship begins.
  • Dream big but build small
  • Group memory is greater than each individuals memory of what is learned -  discipleship happens best in groups rather than as individuals
  • Obedience is more important than knowledge
  • Give 80% of your discipling attention to 20% of your most focused and effective disciple makers
  • Start with creation then move to Christ - through the God story
  • Raise up leaders before they are ready - start with the torch in their hand, don't pass it to them later
  • Start small groups among existing social groups
  • Don't grow bigger groups, multiply more groups
  • Spend a long time discipling people but expect miraculous breakthroughs and acceleration! 

10 Simple Discipleship Truths

Hello, the following article is lifted straight off Steve Murrell's blog, found at    Steve is the founding pastor of Victory Church in Manila with 105,000 members and still growing. His blog and regular entries are excellent! I highly recommend them for all pastors, church planters and fellow leaders in the upside-down kingdom.   Warmly,  Floyd McClung 

Posted by:  Posted date: November 20, 2013 | comment : 0 Comments

Last month Deborah and I were in Indonesia, Singapore, and Taiwan teaching Asian pastors, church-planters, and missionaries about discipleship and leadership. Same ole boring strokes, again. After our Sunday night session a young Indonesian leader asked, “how do you define discipleship?” Good question. Here’s my answer, and more.

1. A disciple is a person who follows Jesus.

2. Every Christian should be a disciple.

3. Every disciple should make disciples.

4. Discipleship is the process of helping others follow Jesus.

5. Discipleship is a life-long journey not a six-week class.

6. Discipleship happens best in community (small groups).

7. Men disciple men; women disciple women.

8. Evangelism and discipleship should not be separated.

9. Discipleship is relationship.

10. Jesus wants all nations to be discipled.

Making disciples is the job of every Christian every day.

Cultivating a relational discipleship culture, creating discipleship systems, and over-communicating discipleship principles was the core of my job description for over two decades as the pastor of Victory Manila. And I recommend that all of the above should be in every pastor’s job description.

Discipleship is not supposed to be complicated or confusing. In fact, it is so simple that a fisherman explained it to uneducated fishermen in two words: “Follow me.”

Are you following Him? Are you helping others follow Him? In other words, are you a disciple and are you making disciples?


My top 5 recommended books on discipleship:

Making Disciples by Ralph Moore

The Master Plan of Discipleship by Coleman

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoffer

The Lego Principle by Joey Bonifacio

WikiChurch by Steve Murrell

5 Broken Views of Discipleship and How to Fix Them

I'm grateful for the great articles from Terry Moeller at Acts 29.  Terry consistently passes on the most consistently helpful articles on leadership, church and discipleship I have come across. The following article by Ed Stetzer is another winner. See

by Ed Stetzer 

There is a lot of talk about discipleship these days — and it is about time. Jesus seemed to think discipleship was a big deal, putting it as the heart — and the verb — of the Great Commission to "make disciples of all nations." Yet, it seems discipleship has fallen on hard times in many churches in the West — for example, English-speaking places like the U.S., Canada, Australia, and England where there are Christians who are just not as desperate and committed as their sisters and brothers in the Two-Thirds World. I would go so far as to say that our discipleship model is broken. I would like to suggest some areas where we are broken and hopefully provide some solutions about how to fix them.

1. We equate discipleship with religious knowledge.

While I don't think one can appropriately grow without seeking more biblical knowledge, many times believers reduce the discipleship process to, "Read this. Study this. Memorize this. Good to go." This is unfortunate.

"The point is not information, but Christ-like transformation."

Instead, discipleship is to be more like Jesus. Christ-like transformation is the goal, as we are "to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers" (Romans 8:29). The point is not information, but Christ-like transformation. And, that means it is not about knowledge in general, but about knowing Jesus better. Trying to be like Jesus, without the power of Jesus, dishonors Jesus.

2. We try to program discipleship.

Discipleship is not a six-week course. It requires both the pursuit of knowledge and intentional action. Too many offer a book or a class when what is needed is a life.

Instead, when Jesus made disciples, He brought them along as He ministered to people. I'm currently discipling a new believer, and we're actually doing ministry together — instead of me just telling him about it. The good news is that the research tells us people want this. In fact, in a recent LifeWay Research study, we found that a large majority of those who have previously attended a small group of some kind, but who are not attending now, would consider attending a new group, but they want to meet with their group more often than just once a week for bible study. People are looking for meaningful, shared-life relationships, not just a discipleship class.

3. We equate discipleship with our preaching.

I'm just going to say it: Pastors, move beyond your arrogance and stop thinking your preaching is enough to be the church's discipleship strategy. This is not just my opinion. Recent research done by LifeWay Research indicates that 56% of pastors surveyed believe that their weekly sermon, or another one of their teaching times such as Sunday evenings/Wednesday evenings, was the most important discipling ministry in the church. While it is great to see the recent renaissance of Bible-based preaching, along with it we have to jettison the idea that "If people just listen to my sermons, they will grow spiritually."

"Discipleship is not a Sunday event, it is a daily commitment."

Instead, discipleship is a daily process. Pastors, we have to develop more robust discipleship plans than just our weekly messages. Discipleship is not a Sunday event, it is a daily commitment.

4. We think that we will grow without effort.

For many, they think that God saved them and now they should just go to church and maybe stay away from the really big sins. They are unintentional in tending to their spiritual growth. Sadly we have not done much to change this.

Instead, we need to understand that the scripture teaches that each person is to not be a passive spectator, but rather to "work out your own salvation" (Phil. 2:12). Discipleship takes every believer's intentional effort. Yes, effort. Believers must take steps to grow, and that is in line with grace.

Notice that this passage does not say "work on your own salvation" or "work toward" it. You cannot. It is by grace and through faith. However, as a believer, you do take effort to grow—but that does not earn you a relationship with God, it just puts you in the right place where God can grow you as a believer, saved by grace. As Dallas Willard has explained, "Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning."

5. We don't offer practical steps.

Changing a church's consumer culture requires an intentional discipleship plan and strategy. We are often intentional about our preaching schedule; why, then, are we not intentional about a discipleship strategy?

Instead, be unapologetic that you want to encourage people to get 1) grounded in their faith, 2) consistent in the word, 3) in a small group with others, whether that looks like a weekly Bible study group, a missional community, a Sunday School class, or something else altogether. Give people steps and people with whom they can take those steps. Conclusion

Assuming your discipleship plan is biblically grounded, the specifics of your plan are not nearly as important as implementing one and communicating it well. Heralding a strategy as the way to become a disciple would be arrogant, but each church should explain its discipleship strategy as "our church's way of discipleship."

Identifying the challenges of genuine discipleship and committing to a process that works through them are the first and necessary steps to cultivating a church filled with on-mission disciples.

(This article first appeared in the April/May 2013 issue of Outreach Magazine.)

By Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer is President of LifeWay Research and LifeWay’s Missiologist in Residence.

The Principle of Saying Hard Things

John 6:22-71, especially verses 30-34 (The Message): "They waffled: "Why don't you give us a clue about who you are, just a hint of what's going on? When we see what's up, we'll commit ourselves. Show us what you can do. Moses fed our ancestors with bread in the desert. It says so in the Scriptures: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.' 

 "Show us what you can do", they said. When the crowd that was fed the loaves and fishes could not find Jesus, they went searching for Him. When they found him, they asked him what sign he would perform for them. Their demand demonstrated their obtuseness. They were shallow, filled with selfish curiosity. The feeding of the multitude was sign enough if they were willing to obey Jesus. The issue was not belief, it was obedience. They had to act on what they already knew to be true if Jesus was going to teach them more truth. 

If people fail to act on what they already know to be true, then giving them more knowledge only serves to harden their hearts and deepen their deception. Spiritual leaders have to be willing to say hard things to their people.

 True shepherds must be willing to lose sheep. Many of Jesus' disciples turned away from him (John 6:60-66). It is sad to see people leave us. It is disheartening to lose good people. But if we speak the truth in love, and people will not receive it, what happened to Jesus may happen to us as well. 

"From that time many of his disciples went back and walked with him no more". John 6:66 (NKJV)

Never bind people to you. What Jesus did next was astounding: he gave those who were closest to him opportunity to leave as well:

"After this a lot of his disciples left. They no longer wanted to be associated with him. Then Jesus gave the Twelve their chance: "Do you also want to leave?" John 6:66-67 The Message

Your disciples must always have the freedom to leave. Obedience is voluntary. It has to come from the heart, not because we demand it or coerce it from people.

 Disobedient people want to hear words that please them. They want signs to tickle their fancy and they want pastors who don't confront their unbelief. Don't fall into that trap. You must remain free to disciple for obedience. 


Simple Doesn't Mean Stupid or Unbiblical

I love this article written by a colleague here in Cape Town. We teach these principles, bu more importantly, we strive to live practice them as a way of life. If you want to make disciples of the lost, grow your church or start new churches with those who don't know Jesus, I think you will find the article immensely helpful. Or you can read the original at




By Daniel Wesley - April 5, 2013
viral jc fish green

Creating Disciple-Making Movements

Around the world, missiologists have recognized and described 100 different disciple-making movements that are exploding in some of the least likely places you would imagine.  Some of these movements have seen millions become followers of Jesus in a few short years.  One particular movement, among mostly Muslims and adherents to tribal religions, has seen 18,000 house churches planted in just 7 short years.[1]  The churches in this movement have 35 people on average and are entirely made up of former Muslims, Animists and Atheists.  There are movements in China and India that far surpass this numerically.  So what can we learn from these movements that may be useful to us in the context of college ministry?  It turns out- quite a bit. They all have common elements that are easily adapted into a university ministry.




There are varied names for the approach and various differences between different movements, but one common ingredient in all these movements is raising up “followers” among unbelievers.

Follower- someone who respects Jesus, is willing to learn from Him/about Him and even attempt to honor Him in his or her life.

This was the religious context into which Rabbi Jesus entered 2000 years ago. People would associate themselves with a teacher or rabbi, learn from him, follow him, and obey him. Jesus took it further. He was not content with merely showing His followers a way to live, but by showing He was the way to live life with God. He did not only want external obedience but inward transformation that came through faith. BUT He usually began by asking people to follow Him. It is important that we notice from Scripture that Jesus had people following Him in simple obedience before they had “accepted” Him or embraced the fullness of who we know Him to be.  In fact, many times they would help introduce Him to their friends before they really understood fully who He was. (John 1:43-46; John 4:28-30).

Needless to say, they eventually did come to fully believe, but their initial lack of understanding and/or poor theology did not keep them from Jesus, or keep Jesus from them.  The result was that these early followers turned the Roman world upside down within a century.  No doubt each of them had different points at which they understood who Jesus was, stepped into the fullness of faith and experienced regeneration, but amazingly many were called “disciples” before that happened! Don’t take my word for it, go back and read about the disciples (Luke 5-6, John 1, Matthew 10 and Mark 3).  As you read through the gospels, notice the different ways many of his disciples lacked basic Christology leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection and, in a few cases, after His resurrection.  It is interesting that most us have assumed that we must “get someone saved” before we teach them to follow Jesus. It seems the Jesus’ model is oftentimes the reverse. What if teaching them to follow Jesus is really critical to saving faith and to making future disciples? Doesn’t this correspond to our experience as well? We were intrigued, attended something, were exposed to Jesus, wanted to explore this more, maybe talked to others, and even sometimes did things we thought might honor God. Then at some point God’s Spirit and His grace broke through and we truly believed and truly committed our lives to Jesus. On the other hand, haven’t you known people who made a “decision” for Christ, but whose lives never changed?  Perhaps we should invite people to follow Jesus in obedience and let the Holy Spirit bring conviction in His timing. (I know this is mind-bending a little, but bear with me on this.)

So how do we help people to start following Jesus regardless of their “salvation status?”  It is quite simple actually. There are 6 simple transferable steps we can use to lead unbelievers forward in following Jesus.


This might be the hardest step for many. But didn’t Jesus mix it up mostly with those who didn’t know Him? Didn’t He say He was called to the “sick”? They could be from a dorm, an athletic team, a club, a study group, or some neighbors. You could do this yourself, or better, have a student you want to train do this. In fact, the latter method is preferred if you are wanting to start a movement. Train, empower, release….this does not mean doing it for them! (Eph 4:12).  Of course, in your own life you should be modeling this as well with your unbelieving peers.

Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 1.29.12 AMInvite unbelievers to study the “life of Jesus,” the “teachings of Jesus,” or the “Bible for themselves.”  You will find that MANY are open to this.  Avoid inviting them to your large weekly meeting or to a Sunday service.  That MAY come later, but begin by just meeting with them one-on-one and in small groups.  Try to avoid having one unbeliever with 5 or 6 believers.  Have your students meet with unbelievers one-on-one and then have them invite THEIR unbelieving friends to join them.  Don’t let the unbelievers be “outnumbered.”  If you need to be at the first few meetings or so, fine.  But your goal is to release your students to do this.  You can meet with them outside that time to debrief and coach them further.  Here is the goal: find people interested in Jesus, help them start to follow Him, and get them to invite their friends to do the same.

Ok, so once we have a small group of unbelievers gathered, here’s what it would look like:


Invite everyone in the circle to share something for which they are thankful.  Celebrate with them as they share their gratitude.  While we are teaching them to be grateful to God for “every good and perfect gift” (Jas 1: 17), it is not necessary to tell them this in the early weeks. Just let them share and celebrate with them.   [Message: Gratitude is frequently the first thing we express to God when addressing Him and is how the Scripture describes the process of coming into His presence.  (Psalm 100)] 


Have everyone share something for which they need prayer.  [Message: God is a living God who answers prayer and who is concerned with our needs.]


Read a short passage of 5-15 verses. Read the passage in 2 different translations and let different people read.  Close the Bible and invite someone to share the story in his or her own words.  Make sure they understand that the goal is to merely repeat the story in their own words and not to draw conclusions. Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 1.37.50 AMAfter the first person has shared the story ask if anyone wants to add details that were missed. [Message: Scripture is critical to following Jesus and is our first means of receiving truth.  Scripture is the plumb line by which we judge any word from God.] **Note: With International students, it is usually good to start with creation and move towards Christ slowly over time.


Have everyone wait on the Lord for 1 or 2 minutes to see what part of the passage the Holy Spirit would highlight for them.  [Message:  God speaks to us by His Spirit and it is proper to learn to hear His voice most frequently through Scripture.]

 5. OBEY

After sharing what God highlighted from Scripture, have everyone share an “I Will” statement which expresses obedience to what was just learned.  Something important happens in calling them to obedience to Jesus. Be willing to challenge people with statements that are measurable and specific.  Avoid letting someone end with a vague immeasurable commitment like “I will be more grateful this week.”  Set the standard in the early weeks and the fellow group members will hold each other’s feet to the fire! Challenge them to hone their statements down to something more tangible. [Message: Obedience is part of what it means to love and follow Jesus.  The Christian life is faith in action.  Of course action doesn’t save someone but it will lead to true disciples of Jesus who have learned the importance of obedience.]


Start your next meeting (notice I did not say “week 2” as you may want to meet more frequently than just weekly) by having each person review their “I will” statement from the previous meeting.  Be sure and CELEBRATE even partial obedience.  If a guy shares that he drinks himself to sleep every night and he reports that he went 3 days after the previous meeting without drinking, celebrate that fact and encourage him in how he grew in obedience.  Keep pointing them to Jesus as the “author and finisher” of our faith.

That’s it!  Now, we may have raised some questions (see below), but the basic idea is that we find people who respect Jesus and want to learn about His teachings.  We ask those people to meet so we can learn together what it means to follow Jesus.  We watch the Holy Spirit draw them and convict them through the process of learning to follow Jesus.  Then they go do the same with their friends. This appears to be the overwhelming model presented in the gospels. The epistles do an amazing job of expounding on concepts such as sin, faith and grace. However, let’s make sure we balance the gospels and the epistles in our approach to making disciples and watch God give us more incredible fruit, as He is already doing around the world.


Naturally this model might raise some questions. I will attempt to briefly address a few here:



Questions for Discussion

  1. What do you like about this strategy? Dislike? Are you possibly apprehensive due to a tradition? A Biblical issue? A fear? Or something else?
  2. Could you see any advantages to such a model if you are trying to make many new followers of Jesus on your campus?
  3. How could you implement this into your ministry?  Think of a pilot program with a few students. (think: who, when, where…)

Please let us know of any stories where you have seen this strategy implemented on campus in the comments section. We would love to hear how God is using these ideas.


“Daniel Wesley” is a Trainer for CPx (Church Planting Experience). Meet “Daniel” and all our CMJ authors here.

Discipleship is Intentional Relationship

As you know, I am passionate about discipleship. But it often happens that as soon as I speak my passion with some people they get a glazed look in their eye, and then start backing out the door! I think they feel some potential pressure and guilt coming their way, or maybe another program they need to give time to.

But, of course, those are things I don't believe in. I love relationship.
For me, discipleship is relationship. Not just hanging out relationship, but intentional relationship. I love investing in people, encouraging them, trying to discern what God is up to in their lives, and then intentionally identifying with what that is to encourage their walk with God.
In fact, I believe every relationship is a discipling relationship if I am intentional. Some and are deep and involve lots of time, others are not so involved...but every relationship is a gift from God... and an opportunity to invest in people's lives. What a privilege.
So how does it work? This thing called discipleship? How does "intentional relationship" work? First, a couple things it doesn't mean...
It doesn't mean getting ahead of where people are in their journey with God. It doesn't mean imposing an agenda on people. It doesn't mean pressuring people or controlling them. It doesn't mean I'm responsible for them...
Whew! That's a relief!!
God has put me and you in people's lives to serve them, and in some cases, to very deliberately invest in their journey with God. With that in mind, here a few suggestions of things I have found helpful:
1. Ask questions - find out where people are in their journey with God, and start there.
2. Try to discern through prayer and listening how you might encourage the person. That is intentionality...discerning, listening, and praying... then speaking encouragement. When you frame what you say with encouragement you will never be far off the mark.
3. Define the relationship. Figure what people want or expect, then define what you can give, and how, for how long and how often. Be positive, not demanding.
4. Always come back to Scripture - somehow, someway, involve the Word. With pre-Christians, I ask if they would like to discuss some of the teachings and sayings of Jesus. If not, that let's me know that they are not ready for spiritual input, so I will focus on the friendship, and set my expectations accordingly. Then I look for others that I can be more directly involved with spiritually. I keep the friendship with everyone, but search for those who are hungry to learn and grow.
5. Expect obedience. Discipleship is obedience to Jesus. Little obediences lead to big obediences. I suggest small things for people to put into practice or do, or ask what goals or what God is impressing them to do. Then I watch to see how the person does in obeying what God is saying to them.
6. I involve them with others at the same level of spiritual growth... I introduce them to others who are seeking to know Jesus, or others who are already on the journey, depending on where they are.
7. Celebrate weakness of failure if a person is honest about a mistake or need. Make your relationship a safe place for them to grow.
Okay, those are a few ideas. What has helped you be intentional about discipling people? Share with me so I can pass on your ideas. Thanks!!

Take Your Disciple Making to the Next Level

To take your discipling to the next level, start by listing those you are discipling who fall into one of two groups:
1. occasional disciples - write a list of their names, how often you meet with them by their names, and the goals they have set for themselves and the goals you would like to see them attain
2. intentional disciples - those you disciple weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly, and make the same list as above, goals they have and goals you have for them
As a condition to meet with those you disciple, ask each of them to list who they are discipling (or at a minimum, who they plan to initiate a discipling relationship with and when). both you and those you disciple should include both pre-christians on your list, as well as already following jesus disciples.

What Is The Need For Discipleship?

There is a great need... need for people who are morally pure... need for people to rethink and reshape what they believe and practice on kingdom principles... need for people who are passionate to spend time with Jesus... need for people who know how to disciple others...and do it! need for people who take initiative to share the gospel... and go for it! need for people who are not spiritual orphans...who know where they belong, who are faithful, and who are fruitful...

Churches are filled with spiritual orphans. A spiritual orphan is a Jesus follower who doesn't belong to a church family with a spiritual father or mother to disciple them. Spiritual orphans:

- become independent - carry rejection spirit - are spiritually isolated - don't know how to father or mother others - bounce from one spiritual family to another

Spiritual orphans run to other orphans to find out who they are, reinforcing in one another the worst traits of emotionally and spiritually disconnected people.

How do you get people free from spiritual orphanhood?

Invite them relationally to move from:

- Move from distant discipling, being "discipled" by a Christian celebrity through their books or music. The danger: it's not up close & real, haphazard, produces isolation, independence, super-spirituality, blind spots, lack of accountability and genuine community.

- Move from occasional discipling, the inconsistent hit and miss kind of discipleship. The danger: it's too infrequent, with different people you get different foundations, and selective accountability.

- Move to intentional discipling in a church family - blessing: clear goals for personal growth, accountability, spiritual depth, open to others in the body of Christ, strong foundations, reproducing fruit naturally

Right and wrong questions to ask about your church:

1. Wrong questions...How can I get people to be more faithful to my church? How can I grow my church bigger? How can I get people to volunteer and be faithful? How big is your church?

Discipleship in a local church is not a program for church growth.

2. Right questions... How can I disciple people to Christ? What is the process for building foundations and freedom in people's lives? How can we disciple people to make disciples in the harvest, who disciple others also?

What you measure in your church determines what you build in your church. Do you measure "disciples who obey" or "people who attend"? Do you disciple people to Christ or to your church?

Discipleship defined = it is intentional relationship. There needs to be a clearly defined process for discipling your people, simple and reproducible. Don't put pressure on yourself to disciple everyone, just those who want to be discipled. In every congregation there are crowds, curious, and the committed. Focus on the committed while you keep challenging the curious and inviting the crowds to more.

Give 80% of your time to the 20% who are most serious about obeying and reproducing. Most pastors do the opposite, and burn out because of it. They give 80% of their time and energy to the 20% who are least serious and most noisy and demanding.