In my doctoral research, I discovered that dropouts tend to have two or fewer “friends they can call on in time of need” in their Sunday School class. Those who had six or more friends tended to be the most frequent attenders. Relationships (plural) matter!
In your disciple-making strategy, don’t neglect relationships. Yes, get to know your disciples. But a relationship with you is not enough. Your disciples need relationships. What can you do to encourage multiple friendships? Consider the following:
- Tell your disciples. Help them know why relationships matter. Explain the consequences of a lack of friends. Define friendship so communication and expectations are clear.
- Have your disciples set a goal of four friends. As a part of your disciple-making, coach them toward seeking out four friends. That would be five including you.
- Send encouragers to them. Don’t take a risk that your disciples will seek out needed relationships. Life is busy. Instead, be proactive in enlisting people to serve as ongoing encouragers for your disciples.
- Expect involvement in a small group Bible study. You cannot make friends for your disciples. So expect them to be in disciple-making activities that offer the value-added bonus of relationships.
- Involve them in fellowships and projects. Look for opportunities to connect them with others through one-time or ongoing social and serving activities.
- Expect them to find a place of service (with others). If they serve on a ministry teams, they will naturally develop relationships. But help that to happen by encouraging the members of the team to invest in your disciples.
A coal pulled out of the fire goes out. Similarly, a disciple who disconnects from the body tends to lose passion, energy, and interest. Keep them connected. Make disciples!
For more ideas about connections, check out these blog posts: