Becoming a Disciple-Making Church

Rick Howerton

The Kentucky Baptist Religious Education Association has invited Rick Howerton of LifeWay Christian Resources to focus on hour our churches can evaluate disciple-making effectiveness and better understand how to make disciples that make disciples. Rick Howerton is small group and discipleship specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources. He is a popular speaker and the author of Destination Community: Small Group Ministry Manual, A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic. and The Beginning: A Resource for New Disciples.

November 10, 2014
Living Hope Baptist Church
1805 Westen St
Bowling Green, KY 42104

Our schedule will be as follows:

Monday, November 10, 2014
5:30-6:00p Registration
6:00-6:45p Dinner
6:45-8:30p Program
8:30-9:00p Business

The cost for this year’s annual meeting including dinner is $50 for non-KBREA members and $40 for KBREA members. Those who join or renew their KBREA membership at the annual meeting will receive the member rate. KBREA annual membership is $25.

Sign up today for the KBREA meeting. Email Jeff Smith at and let him know you are coming.

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A Test of Our Disciple-making: Multiplication

MathSignsWhat is the fruit of our disciple-making efforts? Are we bearing fruit? Are we bearing good fruit? Are we bearing much fruit?

In my study today, I ran across a passage from which I have preached. One verse began to echo in my mind:

Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 7:19, HCSB)

What is the fruit of our disciple-making efforts for Jesus? The logical answer would be disciples of Jesus. Are they disciples, or do they just look like they are disciples? My disciple-making efforts will be judged by my fruit, by the disciples I make. Are they “good fruit?” Do they look and act like Jesus? Are they bearing good fruit as well?

Not only will a disciple-maker produce good fruit, but a disciple-maker will produce much fruit. Here is one of several verses that makes that plain:

I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. (John 15:5, HCSB)

The bottom line is that the fruit of a fig tree is not figs but another fig tree. For more on that, check out What Is the Fruit of a Sunday School Class or Small Group? The same is true for disciple-making. The fruit of a disciple is not good works, spiritual disciples, service, etc. The fruit of a disciple-maker is another disciple.

Since the fruit of a disciple-maker is another disciple, then how does “much fruit” apply? In one word, “multiplication.” When a disciple-maker bears “good fruit,” that fruit is a disciple that makes another disciple. Thus, “good fruit” disciple-making results in the multiplication of “much fruit” disciples.

Discipleship is not just about head knowledge. It is multiplication. Who are we investing in who are becoming like Jesus and are investing in others who are becoming like Jesus?

There are scary phrases in both of the verses quoted above: “cut down and thrown into the fire” or “do nothing without Me.” How will our Lord Jesus Christ measure our discipleship efforts? Will He find “good fruit” and “much fruit?” What adjustments do you need to make in your disciple-making? Follow Him. Be His disciple. Make disciples!

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

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Discipleship and Assimilation Conferences at EQUIP Tour September 2014


Are you seeking improvement in the overall health of your church? Do you need help equipping your leaders and members? Leaders, staff and volunteers in the areas of:

  • Discipleship
  • Evangelism
  • Assimilation
  • Revitalization
  • Preschool/Children’s Ministry
  • Sunday School
  • Worship/Music
  • Youth Ministry

… are all invited to come together to be challenged and better equipped for sharpening the effectiveness of these key ministries. Additionally, a special session highlighting how your church can become a champion of children in need through foster parenting will be offered at all events.

Coming to a location near you

Clicking on a specific date/location will take you to an event page with a link to register.

EQUIP schedule

6:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m.  Registration
6:30 p.m.-6:40 p.m.  Welcome to Equip 2014
6:45 p.m.-7:45 p.m.  Session 1
7:45 p.m.-8:00 p.m.  Break
8:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.  Session 2

* All times are local time


Conferences are offered in other ministry areas.  Go to for more information.  Each of these Discipleship and Assimilation sessions will be offered once per event.


Four Essentials to Connect People with Your Church
Learn and apply four essential steps to help people get connected to your church beyond their first visit.

Discipleship Directors

Develop a Discipleship Strategy
Identify major strategy elements and steps needed to move people forward in their discipleship journeys.

Deploy D-Groups
Implement a group disciple making process that offers several advantages over one-on-one discipleship.

How to Register

The cost to attend EQUIP 2014 is $10 per person with a maximum fee of $50 per church.

  • Determine the number of people in your group or church who plan to attend. Attendees will select which sessions to attend on the day of the event.
  • Register online and pay by credit card by clicking on one of the event dates listed above. To register by mail, make checks payable to the Kentucky Baptist Convention and send to:

Kentucky Baptist Convention
CCR Team
P.O. Box 43433
Louisville, KY 40253-0433

For more information, call the Church Consulting and Revitalization Team at (502) 489-3571 or toll-free in Kentucky (866) 489-3571, or send an email to

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Discipleship: Your Example Matters

DadSonPrayingFor Christians, the focus of our discipleship is Jesus. We devote ourselves to Him, to following Him, to acting like Him, and carrying out His mission. We choose to surrender ourselves to Him. We go where He leads. We study His commands (Matthew 28:19-20), His teachings, and His example so we know how to think, live, act, and teach others. We adjust our lives to go where He goes, to love those He loves, and to accomplish His purposes.

For this kind of discipleship to be possible, there must be a “genuine, growing” relationship with Jesus. Notice both words in quotes. First, it must be genuine. There is admission of sin and of need for Jesus. There is recognition of who Jesus is, what He has done on the cross, and what He wants to do. There is confession of sin and repentance. There is commitment to submit to His Lordship. Second, discipleship must be based on a growing relationship with Jesus. It cannot rest only upon a commitment made ten or forty years earlier. It must be fresh and alive. It benefits from daily investment in prayer, Bible study, and seeking Him. It is an effort to work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).

Your example matters. Your words matter. Your life matters. People are watching. They are viewing the Jesus in you. They see the depth of your commitment, the seriousness of your obedience, and the devotion of your heart. They can tell whether it is a real relationship or if you are just going through the motions.

Your example begins before your interaction. It starts in your prayer closet. It starts in your quiet time, in your personal time of Bible study and prayer. That fresh, daily relationship prepares you for living for Jesus in every interaction. Dependence on the past, on a static relationship with Jesus, becomes obvious to everyone just like a marriage where the two spouses no longer communicate.

Invest daily in your relationship with Jesus, the focus of your discipleship, because your example matters. Be a disciple. Live as a disciple. Make disciples!

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

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Leadership Development IS Discipleship

I have been doing a series of training and planning sessions across Kentucky this year. Those events have caused me to realize something about discipleship that had not clicked until now.

Jesus taught and modeled ministry before he called the Twelve. He prayed all night (Luke 6:12) before calling them out personally. Then he did ministry with them. Then when the time was right, they were sent out in pairs (Mark 6:7) to do what Jesus had been doing. Then He called them back together to hear reports (Mark 6:30). This was disciple-making by Jesus.

When you pray for Jesus to send out workers into the harvest (Matthew 9:38), that is a discipling action on your part. When God lays an individual on your heart that you are to prepare and mobilize into His service, that is discipleship.

Following prayer, observation of what God is doing in that individual’s life and living life for Jesus in front of that person is disciple-making. Your life and your words matter!

To prepare people to say yes to the Lord’s call to serve Him, our observation along with spending time in life and ministry activities is essential. Debriefing these experiences helps the individual to recognize abilities that God can use in service. That is disciple-making action and preparation of the disciple for stepping into service.

Officially asking them to serve with us, leads some to step forward who would have been intimidated to serve alone. In fact, some may have said no to God otherwise. Doing so also heightens attention to your example and words from that point forward. And doing so gives you permission to accelerate your preparation of the leader. These are essential disciple-making actions.

Don’t send them out to do the Lord’s work alone. Taking them with us is the best way for leadership development AND for disciple growth. In fact, what is the purpose of making disciples? Jesus in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) commands us as we are going to make disciples of all nations baptizing them (leading them to faith in Jesus) and teaching them to obey/observe/do what Jesus commanded…which leads right back to teaching them as they are going to make disciples.

Bottom line: when we pray for, enlist, train, and mobilize leaders to help the church carry out the Great Commission, we are making disciples. Pray. Observe. Take them with you. Debrief. Ask them to serve with you. Accelerate the preparation. Don’t send them out alone. Make disciples!

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8 Steps to Penetrating Lostness Through New Groups by Claude King

ClaudeKingClaude King of LifeWay Christian Resources is the author of many discipleship resources:

Claude has posted a new video on his newly updated Growing Disciples video blog. Press this link to watch and listen to Claude:  8 Steps to Penetrating Lostness Through New Groups.

Here is his outline:

Guide your church or group to pray for God’s heart for the lostness in your community and world. Then follow His leadership to penetrate that lostness by starting new Bible study groups through which He will draw people to saving faith in His Son. Here are eight steps to consider:

  • Pray to know God’s heart for the lost.
  • Put names and faces on lostness in your Jerusalem… and to the ends of the earth.
  • Pray for laborers. (Matthew 9:35-38)
  • Commission and equip teams (2 or more people) to start new groups.
  • Pray for God to open your eyes to see where He is working and join Him. (John 4:35)
  • Pray for open doors. (Colossians 4:2-6)
  • Invite people to listen to God, learn from Him, and come to Christ. (John 6:45)
  • Tell your own story of what good things Christ has done for you. (Mark 5:18-20)

As you pray, consider new groups for:

  • Age Groups: Who and where are they?
  • Sunday Workers
  • Socio-economic groups
  • Language Groups/Ethnic/Cultural (see:
  • Housing Types (e.g. apartments, trailer parks, condos)
  • Professions
  • Relationships (coworkers, relatives, neighbors)
  • Geographic Areas (other towns, villages, neglected regions)

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

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KBREA Focus: Transformational Discipleship


All ministers of education, associate pastors, children’s ministers, youth ministers, professors, denominational leaders, and others who serve in church discipleship/education ministry are invited.


2013 Annual KBREA Meeting
November 11, 2013
FBC Paducah
2890 Broadway Street
Paducah, KY 42001


5:30-6:00p     Registration
6:00-6:45p     Dinner

6:45-8:30p     Program
8:30-9:00p     Business

Guest Speaker
Philip Nation

Philip serves as the Director of Adult Ministry Publishing at LifeWay Christian Resources and frequently speaks at churches and conferences. He earned a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2010-2012, he served as the national spokesperson for theBack to Church Sunday campaign from Outreach.

Over the years, Philip has served as a pastor, minister of education, and a church planter. Currently, he is the teaching pastor at The Fellowship, a multi-site church in Nashville.

Philip has coauthored two books: Compelled: Living the Mission of God andTransformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow. He is also the general editor of The Mission of God Study Bible. Along the way, he has also written the small-group studies Compelled by Love: The Journey to Missional Living and Live in the Word, plus contributed to The Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God’s Mandate in Our Lifetime.

Philip lives in Tennessee with his wife, Angie, and two sons, Andrew and Chris.

Program Focus
Transformational Discipleship

Transformational Discipleship is built from the largest research projects done on the state of discipleship in North America. During his session, Philip Nation will share the insights and framework that can be put to use in your church to build a stronger culture and process for discipleship.

The cost for this year’s annual meeting is $50 for non-KBREA members and $40 for KBREA members. Those who join or renew their KBREA membership at the annual meeting will receive the member rate.

KBREA annual membership is $25.

To sign up for the KBREA annual meeting, please email Jeff Smith at and let him know you plan to attend!

KBREA Officers

Mark Quigley - Acting President
Jeff Smith - President-Elect & Acting Treasurer

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Which Is the Focus of Your Discipling: Coming or Going?

JesusSaidGOIn the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), Jesus did not command us to make disciples of only those who show up at church. Instead, He said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”

The phrase “go” in the original language means “as you are going.” Thus, Jesus commanded us to make disciples of all nations as we were going. Wherever we are, we are to be making disciples. As we are going through life, we are to make disciples. When we are at work, school, home, or in the marketplace, we are to make disciples.

Watch this two-minute video for a reminder:

This Is Discipling

What could happen if THE church took seriously the command to make disciples as they are going? What could happen if YOUR church took this seriously? What could happen if YOU took this seriously? Make disciples!

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

Posted in Discipleship, Spiritual Growth | 1 Response

Discipleship Outcome Questions

3QuestionsI recognize that being a disciple of Jesus Christ is first and foremost a relationship. It is a restored relationship with the Father through the Son who paid the price for our sin and gave us purpose and a mission. It is living like and looking like Jesus. It is empowerment through the Holy Spirit who dwells within and spills out as we live out the Christ-life.

But still, I find myself asking questions about natural outcomes of a life devoted and committed to Jesus. Consider (and answer) these questions:

  • How would a disciple be different than those without a relationship with Jesus?
  • How would a disciple spend his/her time, money, and life?
  • What activities would result at home, work, play, and in the marketplace?
  • How would gathering with a body of believers (disciples) impact the disciple?
  • What points of focus for Jesus would become points of focus for His disciples?
  • How would those around us view us as a result of being His disciples?

I can think of a hundred more questions, but these start the thinking and conversation. Feel free to respond to any of these questions by pressing Leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

Four overarching responses have come to my mind. Look them over and respond to them. What is missing? Consider the following:

  1. Relating. Disciples will intentionally develop deeper relationships with Jesus (through prayer, Bible study, and obedience); with the lost (who Jesus came to seek and save and those He sent us to make disciples); and with the body of Christ (our love for each other is evidence of our relationship with Him).
  2. Serving. Disciples will use spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ and will serve Him in the church, community, and world out of our passion, experiences, gifts, abilities, etc. Relationship with Christ and as a result of an encounter with Him in His Word will result in obedience and serving while living out that truth in relationships in the world.
  3. Sharing. Disciples have received a cure for the disease of sin which without Jesus is incurable. To hide the cure is unthinkable. Relationships demand sharing this good news and what that cure has done in our lives.
  4. Multiplying. A natural sign of life is multiplication. Trees multiply. Cells multiply. Disciples multiply. This happens as a disciple relates, serves, and shares. The disciple cares for others and is a disciple-maker. They seek the lost, love them to Jesus, and seek to help them to fall in love with Jesus and live like Him.

In which of these four aspects is your discipleship strongest? What happens if one of these areas is neglected? What happens to the disciple, to the church, and to the world? In which of these four discipleship aspects do you need to invest additional effort in the next month? Relate. Serve. Share. Multiply. Make disciples!

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

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Think with Me about Discipleship Phase Actions

Discipleship Process SCMDWhat actions would benefit a disciple at each of these discipleship (spiritual maturity) phases: baby, child, teen, adult? In what actions/activities should the individual be involved and which ones could the church provide that would encourage spiritual progress?

I am still chewing through these thoughts. Naturally some of the actions/activities will be consistent throughout every phase (such as daily quiet time in Bible study and prayer). Some will naturally vary according to the individual’s personalities and needs. Others will naturally vary according to the church body’s gifts and abilities. However, different phases will also benefit from different actions and activities from the individual and church.

With those ideas in mind, I have created a brainstorming discipleship phases strategy template. Be warned, it is still in the formative stage. Consider the following template. Use it to think about your own discipleship or that of an individual or group of individuals (like a small group or Sunday School class).

Discipleship Phases Strategy Template

Print this blog post and jot down a few thoughts in each block. I am not trying to legislate discipleship or make it all about actions. I know it is a relationship with Jesus that leads us to love people actively like He did. But I believe identifying some actions may also serve as indicators of a personal, growing, and obedient relationship.

Virgil Grant of Eastside Community Church in Richmond, Kentucky, provided the picture at the top of the post. It is a flattening (simplification) of a SCMD wheel diagram by Real Life Ministries.

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

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