Getting to Know My Disciples

ConversationWhether you have been discipling for years or are just starting, investment in relationships is important. Discipling and care are strengthened when you invest well in getting to know your disciples beyond meeting time. While doing so takes time, it does not have to overwhelm your schedule and it will pay dividends.

Where do I start? Consider some of the following ideas. Use as many of them as possible to enrich your knowledge of your disciples and deepen your relationships with them.

  • Add birthdates to your calendar. Make a 2 minute call that day.
  • Add married members’ anniversaries to your calendar. Send a text or email to them that day.
  • Invite them to a fellowship or project every 6 weeks. Intentionally spend time during the fellowship with your disciples.
  • Visit disciples annually in their homes (or yours), at work, or over a meal (maybe lunch).
  • Add each disciple to a day of your monthly calendar. Pray for the disciple on that day. Send a text that day asking how you can pray for him/her.
  • Arrive early for your disciple-making session. Spend a few minutes visiting with the disciple beyond your meeting agenda.
  • On another occasion, hang around for a few minutes after your meeting. Ask about life, work, and prayer requests beyond what was shared in the meeting.
  • Arrange to meet 15 minutes early before Sunday or Wednesday evening church activities. Ask questions and listen.

This list does not have to require tons of time. But the results will greatly enrich your disciple-making efforts. Print out this blog post. Highlight three that you want to work on over the next quarter. Connect. Fellowship. Make disciples!

For more ideas, check out these blog posts:

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Discipleship Conferences at the EQUIP Tour 2016

Equip2016During August, the Kentucky Baptist Convention EQUIP Tour is coming to a town near you!  The EQUIP Tour could be described as a mini-Super Saturday with the goal of providing practical training to equip believers to serve their churches with confidence and excellence.

LOCATIONS. Training will be from 6:30-9:00 p.m. (local time); registration begins at 6:00 p.m. This Tour has already stopped in Prestonsburg and Ashland. Choose one of these remaining EQUIP Tour stops:

  • August 18 in Bardstown
  • August 22 in Somerset
  • August 23 in Glascow
  • August 25 in Walton
  • August 29 in Paducah
  • August 30 in Hopkinsville

For the host church address, go to the EQUIP Registration page.

CONFERENCES. Training will be provided for the following ministry areas:

  • Women’s Ministry, Sunday School, Discipleship, Church Finances, Revitalization, Children’s Ministry, Youth Ministry, Worship and Music, Evangelism, and Church Security.

For a list of conferences titles/descriptions, check out the EQUIP Conferences List. For a list of the EQUIP faculty, check out the EQUIP Registration page.

DISCIPLESHIP CONFERENCES. Here are the 2 one-hour Discipleship conferences offered at every location:

  • No Destination = Lack of Discipleship. Many leaders and churches are immobilized due to lack of a discipleship picture or definition. Defining what a disciple looks like clarifies your target and destination. As a result, you can develop a plan for moving in that direction. Let’s start at the beginning. This is a disciple.
  • Steps Toward a Personal Discipleship Lifestyle. Does your discipleship lifestyle include these six elements: Jesus, intentionality, relationships, Bible, journey, and multiplication? Answer six questions to start discipling someone this year with confidence, understanding of, and practical ideas for these discipleship lifestyle elements.

REGISTRATION AND MORE INFORMATION. Register on the EQUIP Registration page. For more information, call the Church Consulting and Revitalization Team at (502) 489-3571 or toll-free in Kentucky (866) 489-3571. Or email cheryl.frerman@kybaptist.org.

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Measures of Disciple-Making, Part 2

MeasuresIn Part 1, I shared that Dr. Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, wrote an article in the most recent edition of Facts & Trends. The article was entitled 7 Indicators of True Church Discipleship. There he shared 7 evidences, measures, or indicators of disciple-making taking place in and through the church.

In Part 1, I shared the first 3 of his 7 “indicators” along with my comments about each: (1) members read and study the Bible daily, (2) members are engaged in some type of Bible study group, and (3) members are sharing their faith on a regular basis.

In Part 2, I will share his final four measures or indicators of disciple-making along with my comments:

4. Members are generous with their giving. In Matthew 6:21 (ESV), Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Giving is often the sail catching the wind of the the heart’s priorities. If self is the priority, it will show. If God is the priority, evidence will be obvious. This is a heart measure of discipleship. Disciple-making churches are not afraid of addressing this important topic and practice.

5. Members are expected to attend a corporate worship service each week. A lack of interest in corporate worship is a measure or indicator of a lack of connection to God and understanding of His expectations and Word. The author of Hebrews recognizes the problem in the early days of the church, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some” (10:25, ESV). A coal pulled out of the fire, burns out. We are meant to be together with Him. Disciple-making churches lift up the value of corporate worship.

6. Members are involved in ministry and missions. The natural outcome of a life spent with Jesus is serving and making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). His priorities become our priorities. His concern for the lost and hurting become our concerns. Encountering God in His Word leads to a life of obedience in the world among hurting people who need Jesus. Evidence of individual disciple-making can be seen in the move from self-centeredness to other-centeredness. Disciple-making churches expect and lead opportunties to pray and care for others locally and beyond.

7. The church has an entry-point class all new members attend. How can people coming from a variety of backgrounds become a team? Pointing them toward the Savior is an essential start. But offering a first steps or new member class can also lead new members to understand the vision, purpose, and priorities of the church. An entry-point class can undergird and support new Christians and new members as they begin their journey with Jesus and the church. If there is resistance to participation, it is a sign of a discipleship issue. Disciple-making churches understand the value and expect all new members to participate.

Now pause to evaluate your church or group’s disciple-making. How are you doing with these 4 measures? Which of these 4 measures is your strength? Which needs work? What can you do this week to strengthen disciple-making? Measuring can be painful but is necessary in order to be more effective for Him. Make disciples!

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

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Measures of Disciple-Making, Part 1

MeasuresDr. Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, wrote an article in the most recent edition of Facts & Trends. The article was entitled 7 Indicators of True Church Discipleship. In the article, Dr. Rainer shared 7 evidences, measures, or indicators of disciple-making taking place in and through the church.

I encourage you to read the original article. In Part 1 of this post, I will share the first 3 of his 7 “indicators” followed by my comments about each.

  1. Members read and study the Bible daily. Opening God’s Word daily leads to hearing His voice. Daily Bible study in its most basic sense is opening our minds and hearts to listen to God and understand His plan and purpose for us. How can we follow Jesus as His disciples if we are not spending time in the Word? Disciple-making churches value and support this vital spiritual practice.
  2. Members are engaged in some type of Bible study group. Gathering with a group of people to study God’s Word together is essential. Those in groups are more likely to stay connected to the church and to living lives as disciples. At the same time, groups serve as important sources of encouragement, challenge, and correction for disciples. Disciple-making churches expect active participation in a Bible study group by all members.
  3. Members are sharing their faith on a regular basis. When we (1) have a living relationship with Jesus Christ and (2) open God’s Word to hear His voice, we have experiences worthy of a testimony. Disciples look for life moments where that testimony can be shared. Disciples seek opportunities to care for and share with all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). Disciple-making churches value, encourage, and utilize testimonies in worship, groups, and life.

In Part 2, we will look at the last 4 of Dr. Rainer’s 7 “indicators.” But pause now to evaluate your church or group’s disciple-making. How are you doing with these 3 measures of disciple-making? Which of these 3 measures is your strength? Which of them needs the most work? What can you do this week to lead your church or group to strengthen disciple-making? Measuring can be painful but is necessary in order to be more effective for Him. Make disciples!

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

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Favorite Post: Support for Six Expectations of Disciples

I recently 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 examples:

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.

Church ministries should support disciple-makers’ efforts. 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:

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Favorite Post: Disciple-Making Decisions

KeyQuestionsAs you put together your personal or church plan to make disciples, allow me to offer some questions for you to consider:

Group size. What size(s) will you include? Content delivery is possible in large groups, but disciple-making is nearly always accomplished in smallest groups:  one-on-one, one-on-two, one-on three, etc. Small groups and Sunday School classes can also contribute to the process of disciple-making. Think strategically about using group sizes.

Relationships. How can you encourage relationship-formation to encourage disciples to remain involved in the process?

Schedule. When is the ideal time and duration for each major element of the process you envision? If they cannot be there, it is a poor time–even if it is ideal for you. And some steps and practices of the disciple-making process, take time. Don’t unduly rush but don’t drag things out either.

Multiplication. The process should be able to be reproduced. If it is too complicated, reproduction will be limited.

Goals. What are you trying to accomplish? What changes do you desire to see? What knowledge do you want gained? What practices/behaviors do you want to be understood and learned?

Materials. What resources (books, articles, handouts, etc.) will you use in the process? When possible, think low-cost to avoid multiplication issues with those who may not be able to afford the materials.

Simple. Think simple. Make the process easy to understand and the steps easy to follow. The more complicated the process and the more steps involved, the harder it will be for multiplication. Help everyone to be able to complete the process.

What would you add to these ideas? Share your thoughts. Make disciples. For more ideas, check out these blog posts:

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Favorite Post: 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:
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The Three Who’s of Disciple-Making

WhiteOwlThere are three important “Who’s” of disciple-making. Let’s look at each of them:

  1. WHO: Jesus. When we follow Jesus, He promises to make us fishers of men (Matthew 4:19). We are all apostles (sent ones) who are sent to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). But we should never attempt to do this work alone. He goes with us–or we fail. Our disciple-making efforts spring from our relationship with Him, and our power comes from the Holy Spirit.
  2. WHO: Self. Our Lord has made each of us unique to be useful to him in a way no one else can. He wants to use our personalities, abilities, spiritual gifts, passions, and experiences in disciple-making.
  3. WHO: Our Timothy. He has given each us unique relationships. Even twins tend to have different friends. In fact, our families are a very important part of our focus for disciple-making. So are friends and neighbors. But every relationship and encounter is an opportunity to live for and speak for Jesus.

If any one of the three who’s are missing in your disciple-making, you are failing. You cannot make disciples without Jesus. You cannot disciple anyone well while ignoring who God made you. Without focusing on someone in your relationships, you will not be effective in disciple-making.

Commit the three who’s to the Lord in prayer. Ask for His help. Make disciples!

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

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EQUIP Tour 2016

Equip2016During August 2016, the Kentucky Baptist Convention EQUIP Tour is coming to a town near you!  The EQUIP Tour could be described as a mini-Super Saturday.  The goal of the tour is to provide helpful, practical training that will equip believers to serve their KBC churches with confidence and excellence.

LOCATIONS. On weeknights, from 6:00-9:00 p.m. (local time), we will provide training at eight locations (listed below).  There will be at least one EQUIP Tour stop within an hour’s drive for most churches in Kentucky:

  • August 15 in Prestonsburg
  • August 16 in Russell
  • August 18 in Bardstown
  • August 22 in Somerset
  • August 23 in Glascow
  • August 25 in Walton
  • August 29 in Paducah
  • August 30 in Hopkinsville

For the host church and address for each location, go to the EQUIP Registration page.

CONFERENCES. Training will be provided in the following areas:

  • Women’s Ministry
  • Sunday School
  • Discipleship
  • Church Finances
  • Revitalization
  • Children’s Ministry
  • Youth Ministry
  • Worship and Music
  • Evangelism
  • Church Security

For a complete list of the conferences offered, check out the EQUIP Conferences List. For a partial list of the EQUIP faculty, check out the EQUIP Registration page.

REGISTRATION AND MORE INFORMATION. Registration opens on June 10 at the EQUIP Registration page. For more information, call the Church Consulting and Revitalization Team at (502) 489-3571 or toll-free in Kentucky (866) 489-3571. Or email cheryl.frerman@kybaptist.org.

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Disciple-Making Materials

DisciplesPath2What 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 or one-on-small-group 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 1-4 disciples who will be prepared to invest in 1-4 disciples (think 2 Timothy 2:2). Then when you and your disciples have worked through the materials, you each invest in one or more disciples.

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 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:

 

 

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