Hear “VELCRO Church” Author Live

james-mike-thKBREA has invited Mike James, coauthor of  V.E.L.C.R.O. Church, to share during a live web conference on Thursday, March 10, 10:30-Noon Eastern time. Mike will share practical and biblical ideas for addressing a real problem in most churches: opening the front door and closing the back door. How do we reach out and connect with guests and new members while maintaining strong relationships with faithful members? It is difficult to impossible to disciple people who are not connected!

Here are the chapter titles in the anagram VELCRO from the book title:

  • Valuing every person as a gift from God
  • Engaging every guest with intentionality
  • Leading our friends to Christ
  • Connecting to community
  • Recognizing relationships as key to assimilation
  • Organizing small groups for ongoing care.

The live web conference will be simulcast to three locations around Kentucky:

  • Kentucky Baptist Convention, 13420 Eastpoint Centre Dr, Louisville
  • Versailles Baptist Church, 125 Green St E, Versailles
  • Eastwood Baptist Church, 500 Eastwood Dr, Bowling Green.

Each of the three local groups will plan to fellowship over a dutch treat meal following the simulcast. Plan to join the group closest to you. Books will be available for purchase at each location for $7 (bring a check or exact change if possible).

This is the kind of a book after reading that would help a team develop a plan for greater effectiveness and fruitfulness.  Gather a team. Work on implementing the strategy a step at a time. If your team needs help, don’t be afraid to ask another church, pastor, association, state convention, or even Mike James.

Begin in prayer. Velcro your guests, new members, and faithful members. Make disciples. For more assimilation ideas, check out these blog posts:

Posted in Discipleship, Events, Spiritual Growth, Training | 2 Responses

BACE 2016: Be One, Make One

Are you coming to the BACE Disciple Leader Gathering at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary on April 14-15, 2016? I plan to be there and hope you will be too! Be sure to register soon.



What is a Disciple? – Featuring Robby Gallaty, Replicate Ministries, Pastor, Long Hollow Baptist Church, Hendersonville, TN.

bruceraleyModels of Discipleship Forum – Multiple presenters led by Bruce Raley, LifeWay Christian Resources and Casey Pearson, Kirby Wood Baptist Church, Memphis, TN.

micahfriesDiscipleship Trends – LifeWay research on trends related to church discipleship strategies. – Micah Fries, LifeWay Research


Putting Together Your Plan for Discipleship – Round table discussions and planning led by Steve Layton, Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood, TN.


  • Profile of a Disciple – Herb Hodges, Spiritual Life Ministries
  • Discipling the Family – Jacob Harris, Kirby Woods Baptist Church
  • Discipling Young Adults – Will McKay, Bellevue Baptist Church
  • The Role of Sunday School in Discipleship – Allan Taylor, LifeWay Christian Resources
  • Disciples Path Strategy – Rick Howerton, LifeWay Christian Resources
  • Journey On Discipleship Strategy – Steve Layton, Brentwood Baptist Church
  • The Downline Strategy – Kennon Vaughan, Harvest Church
  • Higher Education & Discipleship – Randy Stone, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
  • DLife: Living a Lifestyle of Discipleship – John Herring, Life Bible Study


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Scripture Memorization and Disciple-Making

ScriptureMemoryHow many of us have a Bible in hand at every moment of temptation? How many of us take the necessary time in Bible reading and prayer in advance of daily and life-impacing decisions? And yet those are some of the very moments when we need God’s Word the most.

At the start of Jesus’ ministry, He went on a 40 day fast at the end of which Satan tempted Him. To every temptation which had serious, life-impacting consequences, Jesus responded with scripture. Did Jesus have His Bible with Him at those moments?

Obviously the answer is “no” and “yes.” While He did not have a written copy, more importantly He had God’s Word in His heart. He had more than words. He understood and knew how to apply God’s Word in relevant ways to a variety of questions and issues.

That is why I highly encourage scripture memorization as a part of your disciple-making plans. Work together on a verse each week. Make sure you together understand the words, meaning, significance, and relevance. Look at the context and understand the truth being communicated in the verse(s).

Some have told me they are not very good at memorization. When I hear that, I think of 85-year-old Irene. She was my disciple through MasterLife for 26 weeks during which we memorized two verses or passages each week. She was my best student. How did she do it? She got on her stationary bike daily and rode it until she had said her verses–not for the week but from the beginning. So by week 26 (50 verses later), she was in better physical and spiritual health.

I suggest that you write down the verse(s) on an index card and carry it with you throughout the week. Stop to say the verse(s) aloud at least three times every day (could be meal times), trying to do so by looking at the card less than the previous time.

Have someone check you daily the later half of the week. This stengthens your resolve to get it right and gives you a chance to share a verse that is worth learning.

When you gather together for a disciple-making meeting, allow leader and learner to say the verse(s) aloud. As leader, your example matters. Talk about the verse(s) and any illustrations or insights God provided throughout the week. Examine the context, words, along with the general and personal application.

What stories can you share about memorizing scripture related to your disciple-making efforts? Invest in Bible reading and prayer. Spend time memorizing and applying God’s Word. Make disciples!

For more ideas about discipling others, check out these blog posts:

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Who Will Help You Carry Out Your VELCRO Church Strategy?

VELCROchurchOver the years as I have studied church statistics, one is glaring. If our churches would slow down the losses (people leaving often due to neglect), they would have more people attending, discipling, serving, and reaching. In most cases, our churches lose more members than they reach each year. Too many new members are lost in the first year. And others leave due to death, moves, poor health, and many other reasons.

A couple of years ago, two friends of mine (Ken Hemphill and Mike James) wrote a great little book entitled, V.E.L.C.R.O. Church. It is full of practical and biblical ideas for addressing a real problem in most churches: opening the front door and closing the back door. How do we reach out and connect with guests and new members while maintaining strong relationships with faithful members? It is difficult to impossible to disciple people who are not connected!

Who could help you develop and carry out a V.E.L.C.R.O. Church strategy? Let me share the chapter titles in the anagram VELCRO from the book title:

  • Valuing every person as a gift from God
  • Engaging every guest with intentionality
  • Leading our friends to Christ
  • Connecting to community
  • Recognizing relationships as key to assimilation
  • Organizing small groups for ongoing care.

The final chapter points to a key place for Sunday School and/or small groups in a VELCRO Church strategy.

But what if the strategy for a VELCRO church were given to the Sunday School to carry out? (1) What if class members valued every person in their assigned age group? What if they engaged every worship and class guest taking some specific key actions? What if every class prayed for, shared Christ with, and led friends to Christ? What if each class connected to each other and to the community around the church? What if class members recognized the importance of contacts and care in keeping people connected? What if classes organized and enlisted leaders to ensure ongoing member and guest contact and care?

Could your class be a VELCRO class? Could your Sunday School be a VELCRO Sunday School? How can you get there? This is the kind of a book after reading that would help a team develop a plan for greater effectiveness and fruitfulness.  Gather a key Sunday School team. Work on implementing the strategy a step at a time. If your team needs help, don’t be afraid to ask another church, pastor, association, state convention, or even Mike James.

Begin in prayer. Velcro your guests, new members, and faithful members. Make disciples. For more assimilation ideas, check out these blog posts:

Posted in Assimilation | Leave a comment

Discipleship and Relational Prayer

PrayBibleSomething I have noticed over the years is how essential spiritual practices can turn into quick, shallow routines. Has your time with God become more practice or habit than a fresh, growing relationship?

What can you do to turn that around? Which of the following have you tried? Which do you need to begin this year?

  • keep a written log of prayer requests and answers to prayer (prayer journal),
  • pray at other times than meals,
  • combine Bible reading and prayer,
  • pray through scripture (see Teaching Sunday School Members to Pray Through Scripture),
  • pray big, God-sized prayers,
  • choose a different place or different time to pray (or both),
  • seek out a prayer partner to challenge each other in prayer,
  • read scripture passages about prayer before praying,
  • read a book about prayer (but don’t forget to pray),
  • after reading scripture and praying, meditate and listen,
  • allow God to apply scripture to your life and then pray in response to what He is saying to you,
  • set up a prayer retreat of at least four hours, spending time in His Word, writing down requests, praying, listening to meditative music, etc.,
  • ask God to convict you and help you identify and deal with sins (even those of omission),
  • seek His still small voice in life and if needed, turn off the distractions and noise,
  • ask Him to help you memorize scripture verses, and/or
  • develop a prayer warrior closet/corner/desk.

What would you add to this list? Which one of these could you add this week? Which should you plan to add this year? How will you keep your prayer more relational? There is nothing wrong with good habits (think brush your teeth). But going through the motions relationally leads to distance rather than relational growth. Pray. Listen. Be a disciple. Make disciples!

For more ideas about prayer, check out these blog posts:

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Disciple-Making Goals for the Year Ahead

RoadRollerWhere are you headed and how will you get there? Have you prayed? Our Lord has promised to be with us, and He is “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20, ESV). You don’t have to ask what to do. Making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20) is our task. But knowing how and where to start is worthy of intentional and serious prayer.

After praying alone, gather a team and pray together. Continue in faithful pursuit of disciple-making while you are praying. In other words, don’t quit making disciples while you are praying. But be open to new ways, new directions, and new focus for the year ahead.

In a recent article on pastors.com entitled 5 Big Goals for Each New Year of Ministry, Rick shares 5 goals that could also be worthy goals for your disciple-making efforts this year.
  • ATTENDANCE.We will increase our…attendance. Work to increase the numbers of men, women, teens, and children who are being discipled. Increase attendance in your courses and groups. While attendance is only one number, it is one indication of disciple-making. Extend personal invitations. Use social media. Mobilize your disciple-makers. Capitalize on your gatherings and events to invite new people.
  • CONNECTIONS.We will help attenders get better connected. An ember pulled out of a fire, goes out. The body of Christ needs each other. Those with friends in class tend to stay connected. Those without drop out. It is difficult to disciple those who are cocooned and not connected. Notice and pursue irregular attenders. Care for those who miss a group meeting. Connect people with common affinities. Pay attention to people and their relational connections–or lack thereof.
  • MATURITY. We will help our members grow in spiritual maturity. Our goal is more than knowledge. Our goal is spiritual progress of every member. That is all the more reason why attendance and connections are important. How can you help each member take steps toward spiritual maturity this year, this month, this week? How can you help them to grow in their relationship with God and man? How can you help them grow in the fruit of the Spirit? How can you help them live obedient, Christ-like lives? Make courses and disciple-making relationships practical.
  • MINISTRY AND LEADERS.We will deploy more people in ministry and develop more leaders. Seek to involve every member in service. Focus on getting new members involved with you. Enlist a ministry involvement leader to lead members find places of service and ministry. Meet needs together. Train them. Discover their gifts, abilities, passions, and experiences. Mobilize them into ministry and leadership opportunties.
  • GREAT COMMISSION. We will fulfill the Great Commission locally, globally, and cross-culturally. Make disciples of all nations. This can be launched from disciple-making relationships, small groups, Sunday School classes, or other groups. Carry out projects in the community, nation, and world. Think Acts 1:8. Pray. Identify needs. Find areas of common passion and interest. Serve. Give. Go. Jesus sent His disciples out in pairs. Serve together.

All five of these goals are worthy of attention this year. Pray about where to start and how to pursue them. Make plans. Set deadlines. Make assignments. Carry out the plans. Check on progress. Adjust if needed. Making disciples is a huge goal that we cannot do alone and will seldom be accomplished accidentally. Make disciples this year!

For more ideas about disciple-making, check out these blog posts:
Posted in Discipleship, Mentoring, Mobilization, Spiritual Growth | 1 Response

Support for Six Expectations of Disciples

I reExpectationsad an article by Thom Rainer entitled 6 Characteristics of Disciple-Making Churches on Outreach Magazine  In the article, Dr. Rainer listed six common expectations of churches who are effective in making disciples. In these churches, members are expected to…

  1. attend an entry point class,
  2. attend an open group Bible study,
  3. be involved in one or more deeper studies throughout the year,
  4. attend corporate worship service each week,
  5. be involved in at least one ministry or mission activity each year,
  6. read and study the Bible daily.

Making disciples is not optional. Jesus commanded it (Matthew 28:19-20). How, then, could we begin to lead in the direction toward these expectations? What could we do to encourage and support these expectations? There are many possibilities, but allow me to offer two:

SUNDAY SCHOOL or SMALL GROUPS. What if adult and youth Sunday School group leaders were the champions for these expectations? What if groups organized themselves to encourage disciple-making by leading group members in pursuit of these expectations? (1) For instance, what if new class members were encouraged to attend a new member class with another class member? (2) What if the age-appropriate class welcomed and invited the new church member at the end of the service in which he/she joined? (3) What if the class talked together about discipleship studies needed by class members and encouraged attending together? (4) What if classes sat together in worship? (5) What if every adult and youth class had a class leader who encouraged serving in a church ministry? Or what if the class pursued, sponsorted, and carried out a church ministry or mission activity? (6) What if class got into groups of two or three to encourage one another to read and study the Bible daily?

ASSIGNMENT TO AN EXISTING MINISTRY. Another possibility for supporting these expectations would be to assign each of these expectations to an existing church ministry. Rather than pulling people in even more directions by adding new ministries, why not strengthen your existing ministries by giving them disciple-making responsibilities? Think about which ministry could best champion each of the expectations. Consider the following:

  1. new member class:  could be assimilation or discipleship ministry
  2. open group Bible study:  could naturally be Sunday School or small groups ministry
  3. deeper Bible studies:  could be men’s and women’s ministry, discipleship ministry, or other
  4. corporate worship service:  could be worship team, Sunday School/small groups ministry, or other
  5. serving in ministry or missions:  could be missions ministry, men’s/women’s ministry, Sunday School/small groups ministry, or mobilization or nomination team
  6. read and study the Bible:  could be men’s/women’s ministry, Sunday School/small groups ministry, or other.

Without support for these expectations, most will never produce results or fruit. Someone must lead. Someone must expect. Someone must champion and encourage them and even check on progress. Where do you need to start in raising expectations and providing support for them this year? Make disciples!

For more ideas about making disciples, check out these blog posts:

Posted in Discipleship, Mobilization, New Member Classes, Spiritual Growth | 1 Response

Materials for One-on-One Disciple-Making

BecomingADiscipleMakerWhat materials are you using for one-on-one disciple-making? What materials are you using for D-groups (small disciple-making groups of four or less)? Please press Comments and share what you are using and how you are using those materials.

This blog is not in the business of promoting or selling products, but there is a lot of interest in one-on-one disciple-making right now. In response to that interest, I want to share three sets of materials that can help.

Billie Hanks Series:

Disciples Path Series:

Growing Disciples Series:

Use these materials to invest in one disciple who will be prepared to invest in one disciple (think 2 Timothy 2:2). Then when you two have worked through the materials, you each invest in one disciple. Each of the above sets could be worked through in a year. So by the end of the second year, you have four disciple-makers ready to invest in four more. This may seem slow, but consider this:  with multiplication efforts continuing annually, you could impact over 4,000 people by the end of the twelfth year!

What is your strategy for one-on-one disciple-making? What materials are you using? How are those efforts going? Let’s start a disciple-making movement. Make disciples!

For more ideas about making disciples, check out thee blog posts:

Posted in Discipleship, Mentoring, Spiritual Growth | 1 Response

Tracking Your Disciple-Making

Image result for deer tracksDisciple-making efforts matter. What are you doing to help disciples make progress? How are you helping them to mutliply? Think 2 Timothy 2:2.

Are fewer and fewer involved in your disciple-making strategy as you go farther along? Then the strategy may be too complicated. You may have too many steps or the transitions may be confusing.

Think about an individual when you design your process. How could you ensure that one individual moves from step to step? Think in terms of relationships. Think about how an encourager could help.

Tracking is important. But tracking is often more about numbers than about individuals. Stay focused on individuals and you are more likely to see individual progress.

How have you been successful in encouraging people to move through your disciple-making strategy? Share your successes. Ask for help. Ask questions. Press Comments and share.

Track your disciples. Make disciples. For more ideas, check out these blog posts:

Posted in Assimilation, Discipleship, Mentoring | 2 Responses

Disciple-Making Team Strategy Retreat

DMFSo you want to help the church “make disciples of all nations.” How can you get started? First I want to recommend praying. You don’t have to pray about whether our Lord wants you to make disciples. He has already commanded that. Rather, pray for the team you will assemble to lay out the strategy for doing so.

Second, go after the team. I would suggest including 4-8 people. A smaller group helps planning to flow faster. Lay out the vision and need (but not the strategy). Set a deadline and timetable.

Third, when the team is enlisted, set a date for a retreat where you the team can make a significant start. Ensure that everyone can be there. Make sure to include everyone in the planning and schedule for the day. I would suggest 4-6 hours for that retreat. Work toward consensus in your planning–don’t vote. Don’t get bogged down too deeply in any issue in this first major meeting. Keep things moving and fun.

Fourth, in advance (one week) of the retreat do some spiritual preparation. Ask team members to pray and look through some key disciple-making scripture passages. Ask them to write down thoughts about what God is saying about disciple-making in each passage. Invite the church to pray for the team and the retreat.

Fifth, consider including some of these key questions:

  • What did we hear God say about disciple-making?
  • Why is disciple-making important?
  • On the basis of scripture, what is a simple, memorable definition for disciple-making?
  • What disciple-making actions are taking place in the church? (Consider examining each of the social arenas mentioned in Disciple-making: Using Group Size Advantageously.)
  • What personal practices should be evidence of growing disciples?
  • What church ministry, program, or event could contribute toward undergirding each personal practice? (Before starting any new disciple-making efforts, ask how can you use what you are already doing to strengthen disciple-making efforts.)
  • What are the major steps of the strategy and how can you move disciples from one step to the next (without losing any/many)?
  • What are the deadlines for implementing the pieces of the strategy and who is in charge of each part?
  • How often will you gather in the months ahead to check on progress and make adjustments as necessary?

Sixth, there is still time to attend one of the three remaining Disciple-Making Forums:

  • Monday, November 2, 6:30-8:30 PM (Central time), First Baptist Church, 216 Jenkins Rd, Eddyville; Register at 270.388.7693
  • Tuesday, November 3, 6:30-8:30 PM (Central time), Warren Association of Baptists, 6448 Scottsville Rd, Bowling Green; Register at 270.842.4160
  • Saturday, November 7, 9:00-Noon (Eastern time), Northern Kentucky Baptist Association, 301 Riggs Av, Erlanger; Register at 859.727.6522.

These disciple-making forums are planned for conversational exploration of the goal, strategy, and methods for disciple-making. They are designed for pastors, discipleship directors, and key leaders. The forums will focus on:

  • defining disciple-making,
  • strategic disciple-making questions,
  • assessment of the disciple-making impact of programs/ministries, and
  • ideas for launching successful disciple-making plans.

There is no cost for any of the Forums, but registration is requested in order to have materials for everyone. Call the associational office number listed and tell them how many you plan to bring to the event with you.

Disciple-Making Forums will be led by Darryl Wilson, Sunday School & Discipleship Consultant for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

Posted in Discipleship, Events, Spiritual Growth, Training | 1 Response