How do we help people get from ‘point A’ (an unbeliever), to ‘point B’ (a disciple’)? How can we help them to take their first small steps on this lifelong journey?
Making disciples is a relational process, and we need to get alongside people much more than we need to run projects and courses. Human interactions are critical. With this in mind, the Fresh Expressions movement has identified six stages in the disciple-making process:
It is worth noting that ‘CHURCH’ is actually the last stage of the process before it all begins again (i.e. ‘REPEAT’). This, again, is because relationships come first. Each church congregation is a network of faith-full relationships.
However, while these stages are represented by six equal circles, more time is usually spent on the first three stages (which yield more positive outcomes), than on the last three stages (which yield less positive outcomes). Here’s what this looks like (again, in a diagram!):
This funnel has decreasing sizes – for each of the subsequent stages – because more people want to be loved and included in a community than want to hear about Jesus; and more people are prepared to hear about Jesus than are prepared to actually follow Him.
If we are aware of these dynamics, we can make more realistic plans for the growth and development of our congregations, which in turn can help us to avoid much needless disappointment. Making a plan for making disciples is not as easy as it sounds.
What strategies do you have for the six stages of the disciple-making process? Which ones are working well? Which are not? What could you do differently?
This blog contains the sixth principle taught to all new congregation leaders in the Joshua Centre’s Leadership Development Program (within the theme: ‘Lead A Mission’).