Strategic Disciple-making Actions

JesusIn calling the disciples, Andrew and Peter, Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Jesus’ life and teaching were a demonstration of His disciple-making plan. Jesus established the model.

Take out a piece of paper and make three column. Write down Before, When, and After as headings for the columns. Then think about what Jesus did before calling the disciples, when He called them, and after He called them. Write what He did at each step which prepared them to be disciples and ultimately to be disciple-makers.

In order to develop Christ-followers (Matthew 4:19), we must not ignore Jesus’ example in developing our disciple-making strategy. The result of my study of Jesus’ example looked something like this:

  1. be an example before them in what you model and teach
  2. pray for the disciples God wants to send to you
  3. observe them: gather evidence of what God is doing in their lives
  4. personally enlist those God has led you to invest in, sharing the evidence you have seen
  5. walk through life together, sharing experiences and teachable moments
  6. study God’s Word, ask questions, and pray together
  7. give assignments for learning and for obedience
  8. check on understanding, spiritual vitality, application, and progress
  9. establish growing expectations
  10. walk them toward Kingdom service, investment, and multiplication

Can you see Jesus’ life and example in this strategy? Can you picture times when He did each one with the disciples? What would you add to the list? Press Comments and share your thoughts, strategy, and suggested actions.

In our strategy, we could add a couple of addition items:

11. don’t be surprised at some failure (Judas and Peter, for example)
12. when needed, adjust the plan according to needs and individuals but don’t stray far from our Lord’s example

Don’t rush to develop your strategy before looking thoroughly at Jesus’ example of disciple-making. At the same time, don’t neglect to “make disciples of all nations” just because your strategy still needs a bit of work. Pray, practice, and adjust. Make disciples!

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

Posted in Discipleship | Leave a comment

Discipleship Encourager Actions

EncouragerIn my previous post, Can You Make a Disciple of One Person?, I asked:

How can we carry out this command? How can we “make disciples of ALL NATIONS” (emphasis added). I want to suggest an overly simple answer:  ONE AT A TIME.

I have often had the reply, “But where do I start?” Related questions include:

  • What materials do I use?
  • How often do we meet?
  • I prefer relational rather than programmatic. Is that okay?
  • I was never discipled. I don’t know how.

Obviously each discipleship opportunity varies according to the individuals involved, their experiences and interests, and their maturity in Christ.  While many methods are possible, it is important to utilize one that produces results. That begs the question, what results are desired and being produced though the methods chosen?

For simplicity, what if we focused discipleship expectations through the lenses of two things Jesus said?

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20a)

Where would these words of Jesus lead you to focus in the lives of brand new believers? lukewarm Christians? experienced but stagnant Christians?

What would you do in the first six weeks? first six months? first year? At what point would they be ready to multiply your investment into others?

How would you encourage them? How would you best challenge them? What would you tell them? What would you do together with them? What would you ask them to do?

What thinking and practices should be experienced at each stage of your discipling efforts? Let’s have a conversation. Share your ideas and experience.  Press Comments and share your thoughts.

Allow me to close with this illustration:

One day a lady criticized D. L. Moody for his methods of evangelism in attempting to win people to the Lord. Moody’s reply was “I agree with you. I don’t like the way I do it either. Tell me, how do you do it?” The lady replied, “I don’t do it.” Moody retorted, “Then I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.”

Contributed by: David Yarbrough; Source: James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 178.

Start now. Start somewhere. Jesus expects it. They deserve it. You can do it. Make disciples!

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

Posted in Assimilation, Discipleship, Spiritual Growth | Leave a comment

Can You Make a Disciple of One Person?

MentorOthersJesus passes the torch to the Apostles and to us today in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20):

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20, ESV)

How can we carry out this command? How can we “make disciples of ALL NATIONS” (emphasis added). I want to suggest an overly simple answer:


Every one matters. Every life matters. You can make a difference with one. Who is your one? Pray. When will you start? Pray. Where will you start? What will you do with that one to help him/her become and grow as a disciple? Pray.

PRAY TOGETHER. Don’t just talk about prayer. Do it. Model it. Pray together. Teach others about prayer.

STUDY TOGETHER. Open God’s Word. Listen together to what God is saying. Seek to understand what He wants. Seek to determine how to be obedient. Encourage one another to keep your commitments. Teach others about God and His Word.

SERVE/CARE TOGETHER. Help him/her to discover spiritual gifts, personality, abilities, and passions that God desires to use in the church, community, and world. Then prayerfully determine where to serve. Then serve together. Then teach others to do the same.

SHARE TOGETHER. Help him/her look around. Who are friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors who need to know about Jesus and what He is doing in your lives? Look for teachable/shareable moments. Look for stresses and needs with which you may help and support. Determine what to say and what to give, and then do so together. Then teach others to do the same.

If you a make disciple of one person, and the two of you each make a disciple of one person, and the four of you each make a disciple of one person, it won’t be too many “generations” of disciples making disciples until we can see the reality of “making disciples of all nations.” Do your part: one disciple at a time.

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

Posted in Discipleship, Mentoring, Spiritual Growth | Leave a comment

One-Day Disciple-Making Workshop


Within a few weeks, dozens across Kentucky (and beyond) will be trained to lead One-Day “Disciple-Making Workshops.” Those who will be trained are disciple-making practitioners who have been enlisted to provide workshops in their area. I want to invite you to pray for the leaders of the training, those who will be trained (trainers), and those trained by the trainers. Pray that lives will be changed, disciples and disciple-makers made, and a movement started!

Disciple-making is a critical need need in churches across the state and beyond. Many Christians fail to become the disciple-makers because no one invested in them. This unhealthy situation must stop.

I cannot share more details yet, but prayer is needed. If you are interested in having a Disciple-Making Workshop in your association, contact me. I will put your name and association on a list to contact after the upcoming training event. My prayer is that the movement begins in me…and you!

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

Posted in Discipleship, Training | Leave a comment

Discipleship Relational Stages, Part 2


In Part 1, I shared that being a disciple of Jesus Christ means that we are in a living, breathing relationship. Being His disciple is a choice and a life-long process. There I shared five discipleship relational stages: Ignoring, Exploring, Starting, Deepening, and Investing.

Listening carefully (full of care) to gauge an individual’s discipleship relational stage may give you clues to how to encourage him or her to take the next step. Assuming you accurately assess the stage, what growth actions you could take with the individual? Consider these ideas designed to spark your thinking:

  • IGNORING. Build your relationship with the individual. Be trustworthy. Care. Ask questions about life and meaning.
  • EXPLORING. Don’t be afraid to live out your beliefs, or talk about them if asked. Invite him/her to hang out with some of your Christian friends. Invite them to your class or small group. Look for moments to share about Jesus and your testimony. Study the book of John together or a Christian resource about Christianity.
  • STARTING. Be an encourager; ask accountability questions positively. Pray together. Study the Bible together. Practice sprititual disciplines together. Help him/her to establish a solid daily quiet time. Attend a class or small group together. Share how to take steps but also why.
  • DEEPENING. Talk about life and what God’s Word has to say. Ask questions. Look for answers. Focus on the point. Study a doctrine or Bible book together. Go to a conference. Read a book together. Make commitments to be obedient to God’s Word. Hold one another accountable to be more like Christ.
  • INVESTING. Encourage him/her to discover his/her God-given SHAPE: spiritual gifts, heart (passion), abilities, personality, and experiences. Lead him/her to understand that God wants to use it all. Invite him/her to help you as you serve. Model serving. Encourage him/her to try out many opportunities of serving God and others in the church and community.

These conversations, actions, and ideas may come in the previous stage in order to encourage readiness for and movement toward the next stage. Or they may come during the stage he/she has entered in order to be even better prepared to move toward the next stage. But keep in mind that progress toward Investing is ultimately where they should be headed. Think Ephesians 4 if you need a reminder about that.

Think about those in your circles on influence. Where are those closest to you in their discipleship relational stages? Where are others you interact with daily and occasionally? What can you do this week to help one or more of them take steps toward growth? What can you do in the coming year to impact others? Walk with them. Talk with them. Lead where you can. Make disciples!

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

Posted in Discipleship, Personal Journey, Spiritual Growth | Leave a comment

Discipleship Relational Stages, Part 1

WalkwGodBeing a disciple of Jesus Christ means that we are in a living, breathing relationship. Being His disciple is a choice and a life-long process (work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, Phil 2:12, HCSB).

Our thinking and conversation often give clues to the stage of our discipleship. I am still thinking through these stages, so ask questions and make suggestions here. Consider the following:

  • IGNORING. There was a time when we were not paying Jesus any attention. The relationship (from our perspective) had not yet begun. We were dead in our trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1).
  • EXPLORING. At some point, we became aware of and interested in learning more about Jesus. For me exploring began when Fred Huff asked me if I knew Jesus as my Savior and Lord.
  • STARTING. We realized our need for a Savior and Lord. We asked Jesus to forgive us, placed our faith and trust in Him, and asked Him to guide and direct our lives. We began a relationship with Him.
  • DEEPENING. We walked together with Him down the pathway of life. We spent more time together. Our lives, thinking, and decisions are impacted by Him.
  • INVESTING. As a result of the relationship, Jesus, His agenda, and loving others became more important. This led to an investment of time, resources, and life in serving, discipling, and multiplying. (Appreciation to Hyde Park for ideas.)

Conversation (and thinking) changes can signify transition from one stage to the next. In the Ignoring stage, conversation would be without focus on Jesus or denying relevance. In Exploring, conversation becomes personal: “What does Jesus want?” In the Starting stage, conversation is filled with excitement about what Jesus did for me: “He is my Savior and Lord. I still cannot believe He died for me.” In the Deepening stage, conversation turns to what I need to know and do to be the disciple Jesus wants me to be: “What do I need to study next? What can I do to be a better disciple?” In the Investing stage, conversation turns to others: “How can I make a difference in the lives of others?”

Where are you in these stages? They are not necessarily as simple and totally sequential as I have painted them, but it is a good starting outline for thinking. What can you do to move farther along? What can you do to encourage others to do so?

We will think these thoughts farther in Part 2. In the meantime, be a disciple. Grow as a disciple. Make disciples!

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

Posted in Discipleship, Personal Journey, Spiritual Growth | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Discipleship, Events | Leave a comment

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:

Posted in Discipleship | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Assimilation, Discipleship | Leave a comment

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:

Posted in Discipleship, Spiritual Growth | Leave a comment