What is the most effective plan for discipleship in the church?

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What is the most effective plan for discipleship in the church?

After a week in the mountains seeking the answer to what it would take to make mature and equipped followers of Christ, I came home empty handed. When I met with our elder team to whom I reported, they agreed that my assessment regarding our church was accurate. When asked what the answer was to our dilemma, I had to plead ignorance. I had wracked my brain and had no idea as to the solution. Their response was clear – “We will provide for you whatever resources are needed, but you need to find the answer.”

My involvement with pastors of great churches around the country told me that they were in the same dilemma. I was becoming hopeless to finding an answer until one morning while meeting with our staff. I had once again asked if anyone had any new ideas or thoughts as to where we could go to find a solution.

One of our staff members had an insightful idea. “What if we put the names on a board of all those in our church that we believe meet the description of a mature and equipped follower of Christ? And what if we were to go to them and ask how they got there? Perhaps we would find a common pathway.”

With that suggestion, we started the exercise. After writing names on the board we had a long list of men and women. It was then that someone shared an observation. “Look at how many of the men who are on the list have been in your small group, Randy. Are you doing anything different in your group than we are doing in ours?”

In response to the question asked by our staff member, I initially pushed back. After all, I had more experience leading small groups than perhaps any of our members. And for sure, I had more theological training. (But I did know that it wasn’t that I was working with the “cream of the crop” spiritually. In fact, to a great extent those names on the board who had been in my groups were men I had led to Christ, coming out of moral and relational messes.) And now only a few years later, they were becoming elders and other leaders of our church.

But I knew I was leading my group differently than our other people. I was merely doing with my men what my spiritual mentor had done with me. When our staff asked what I was doing in my group, I gave the five words that outlined the content of my group meeting. These words formed an acronym (TEAMS) which made for easily remembering. Those five words are: Truth, Equipping, Accountability, Mission and Supplication.

In the next video, I will explain each of these five ingredients. But for now, let me simply say that the usage of these elements has become the operating system of our discipling ministry, which has given birth to what we call “Life On Life Missional Discipleship”.

We define this approach to discipleship as:
“Laboring in the lives of a few with the intention of imparting one’s life and God’s truth in such a way as to see them become mature and equipped followers of Christ, committed to doing the same in the lives of others.”

After embracing this approach to discipleship churchwide, I can now say with full integrity, it is the single greatest decision we have made in the history of our church.

And now, after training churches in 20 countries across 6 continents and churches all across America, we can say with confidence, it’s not a single church phenomenon. Church after church is giving testimony of the same impact in their church as we have experienced at Perimeter Church. So in the next chapter, I will explain the “operating system” of life on life, which we call T.E.A.M.S.

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