The Need For Discipleship Program
Most churches in our time now faces a real challenge in discipling others. Churches has been more concern in “attracting” people to come inside our churches. Well, that’s not bad at all. However, the main fact about coming to our Churches is that there are only very few people who would voluntarily come to church.
Our world have lots of things to offer and temptation to drift away is at our doorstep. And how in the world are we going to keep the new believers in Christ to stay inside the Church? Even if we have a discipleship program inside our Church there is still a great chance of falling away, backsliding, or returning to the old ways.
There is no way that we can avoid backsliding of the new believers 100%, but we can definitely do something about it, we can minimize it by discipling them. Helping them to know more aboutChrist and the kind of life He gives to those who receives Him.
There are some detrimental effects in our Churches if we do not have a discipleship program. Here are just some insights of those:
Church quantitative growth will be very slow, if not stagnant.
Spiritual growth of members will be stagnant.
Church members will become more like church goers instead of church growers.
Carnality will be very common among the general membership.
A mediocre testimony will be evident to the members.
New church members will have more difficulty in understanding the standards of Christian living.
Ideals of Discipleship
There has been many kinds of discipleship programs. But what are the best discipleship models that we can use.
I cannot say which one would be the best discipleship program out there, but here’s some guidelines
that we can check to see whether or not this discipleship program is good.
The discipleship program is transferrable. Meaning, it can be understood by your disciples.
The discipleship program is in minimum reproducible. Meaning, the material should be in a very concise form but is still understandable and can be mass produced in a very minimum cost.
The discipleship program must be time conservative. This simply means that the discipleship program has a time table in each phase.
The discipleship program is aimed to train others that will be able to train others and so on and so forth.
The ideals above are very important in our Churches. They help discipleship programs to succeed up to its application.
The Process Of Discipleship
We all know that discipleship is a process and a long term commitment. As a process, each phase is very important. In our article “The Discipleship Process”, we can see there that the process of disciple making is like a wheel that goes round and round and round.
It all starts to evangelism which will result to a new believer of Christ. He will then go to discipleship so that he will also become a discipler, then he will help in evangelism and then the process starts all over again.
The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 end up in saying “…and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.” This implies that a discipler is suppose to teach everything that a disciple will become a teacher themselves teaching others, and so on and so forth.
Discipleship Training For Disciples To Disciple
One of the main issues that discipleship trainings should resolve is the “continuity” of the discipleship process. Most of them are simply training and then all end up there, without even applying what has been taught.
I have undergo lots of different kinds of discipleship trainings yet there are only very few that I can choose that possess the ideals of discipeship.
With the effort to answer this challenge, mission strategists tried to look for ways to evangelize, disciple, and produce disciplers in the process in the shortest time possible. I would also like to introduce to you to our discipleship material called “Training For Trainers” otherwise known as T4T.
Training For Trainers is not actually a literal material but a set of missiological principles that was made out of the ideals that I have mentioned a while ago. Therefore, Training For Trainers is not an continuously developing, modifying, and upgrading. Though maybe different in style or in approach, the principles will stay the same.
To give you an overview, let me present to you what we are using in our Church and to all our outreaches. Below is the set of lessons that we have been using covering the 3 main phases namely, Evangelism, Immediate Follow-up, and Beginning Discipleship.
Evangelism are set of lessons for “non-believers”, for those people who are willing to hear the gospel. In here, I personally use my “Lead It!!!” and Outreach Bible Study course that mainly tackles about the book of Ephesians.
My “Lead It” is not a Bible Study material, it is however a manual that helps Bible study leaders to make their own Bible Study material using the book of Ephesians. Once they have their own material of the book of Ephesians, they are now ready to use it as an initial tool for Evangelism.
Here’s brief synopsis of the Outreach Bible Study Training Lessons
Immediate Follow-Up Phase
This is where the discipler follow-up the new believers in Christ, teaching them the basic elementary teachings of obedience.
Below are set of lessons of “Training for Trainers” written by Carl Miller. He use this personally in his discipleship program.
Please notice the arrangement of lessons. In this phase, we it now starts to introduce the new believer in the context of making disciples. From the point of evangelism, it is approximately after two months that the new believer is being taught and introduce to disciple others granted that he continued in the Lord after accepting Jesus Christ.
This is in contrast to some other programs that already took 6 months from evangelism and still they have not been baptized and salvation lesson have been forgotten.
The main goal of this phase is to develop the new believer to have a desire to reach others.
In this phase, the new believer that has been evangelized and has undergo immediate follow up will now be taught how to disciple. Remember that the new believer has already been introduced to the idea of discipling others. Now is the time to train them how to do it.
Granted that the new believer is now ready to be a discipler, Carl Miller used the following lesson plan:
If the disciple started to apply these lessons, then the discipleship process will be complete.
Carl Miller is my friend and a mentor. He is an IMB missionary working in the Philippines particularly in Region 8, Eastern Visayas region. His work cover Samar and Leyte provinces. He has been in the Philippines for more than 20 years.