Disciples Multiplying Disciples

How can we be about disciples making disciples through the 21st century church?

  1. I want to provide a “stand-alone” for those with a desire to become multiplying disciples of Jesus. I believe in “layer learning,” presenting one layer at a time and providing enough time and space to become comfortable with this. Then build upon it. This may be used as a self-guided personal study, although for best results gather a few to learn with you.

  2. I want to strongly encourage each to gather a SmallGroup of 3-5 people around you for these five weeks. Then after preparing, come together as both learners and teachers for mutual learning in an interactive learning community of 3-5. This will maximize your learning and stir up life change for them. Win/Win.

Zero Week below provides a seamless way to approach others without any commitment for the initial meeting. At the end of this time today, decide…

  • “No, this is not for me at this time.” This decision is fine. God designed you as the gatekeeper of your heart. Perhaps at another time.
  • “Yes, I want to be part of this five week look at growing as a disciple of Jesus. Sign me up!”

Zero Week

For this first meeting (I call it “Zero Week”), as we gather together  there is no pre-preparation. However, Jesus came to make strong disciples that could live out of the same Source of life as He did, eternal life experienced now. Disciples must follow the “main & plain” of the clear strategy He modeled.

My desire is to recover Jesus’ simple, flexible way of making disciples, yet not simplistic or without effort. Jesus is our Model.

So let’s begin with how Jesus learned in the temple as a boy of twelve. Here’s the context Luke 2:41-45). Jesus came to celebrate a feast in Jerusalem with His families and neighbors. When His parents returned home, they thought Jesus was hanging out with His friends on the way back. After three days, they had not found Jesus, so they returned to the temple. Let’s pick up this history here.

First, how did Jesus learn as a boy in the temple?

After three days they found [Jesus] in the temple courts, in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers (Luke 2:46-47).

Read the passage above twice. This is a fast-paced exercise. So, quickly gather from Luke 2:46-47 the actions and environment you see as Jesus learned. Then let’s dialog together.

Second, pull up John 1:35-51 in your Bible or on your device.

How many men are mentioned? How were people invited & included? How were the first inviters & includers naturally pointing others to Jesus? What was the level of commitment asked of these men at this time?

As usual before going on, make your learning active. Then let’s dialog.

Each week we will go through these four bullet points as guidelines for our time together. The group is designed to be highly interactive with a place for your questions so we can explore together.

  • Starters. One thing this week you are grateful for. Review.
  • Read the passage out loud in a circle, a few verses each.
  • Debrief insights from the passage and from “Stretch Myself” with each other as both a learner and a teacher.
  • Share & Pray: a 15-30-second personal request, then our best 30-second prayer. Also pray at times for our city.

For the teacher of the group,…

click here for some of my ideas from the passages above. Freely add your own, and “draw out” the group’s thoughts with questions. What others say has more impact on their lives than what we say.

Week One:  Jesus Calls All

What we just finished was “Zero Week” because there is no commitment. Just come and decide if this is something for you at this time with these people to grow as disciples.

If the answer is “no,” fine. Let me know if there’s any other way I can help you on your journey with Jesus.

If the answer is “yes,” this learning experience is designed for pre-preparation to maximize your learning as a disciple of Jesus (“disciple” actually means “learner”).

Here’s what I’m asking for next week for your benefit and that of the group, ideally diving in for at least a few moments each day. We want to come back together again next week as both learners and teachers as we learn interactively from one another.

Read and reread these six following verses on your own each day for a week before you come to group. Jot down your thoughts on Mark 1:15 and Matthew 28:16-20. Then on the fifth or sixth day add the short free PDF article from this link for Jesus Calls All. Print out the article. Mark it up. Make it your own. Come to your group with your thoughts, uplifts and questions so we can explore together as both a learner and a teacher.

Each week we will go through these four bullet points as guidelines for our time together.

  • Starters. One thing this week you are grateful for. Review.
  • Read the passage out loud in a circle, a few verses each.
  • Debrief insights from the passage and from “Stretch Myself” with each other as both a learner and a teacher.
  • Share & Pray: a 15-30-second personal request, then our best 30-second prayer. Also pray at times for our city.

Spend at Least one Week on the Assignment Before Continuing

Week Two:  Back to the Beginning

Read and reread the following verses on your own each day during the week. Read more rapidly this week because of more verses, jot down your thoughts and bring them to group. Also begin to gather some responses to and results from being and making disciples.

Note that this is three chapters, so tap into your rapid reading skills.

  • Genesis 1:1-25 – As you rapidly read, notice the repetition each day. Creation reflects the Creator, so what does this say about our Creator?
  • Genesis 1:26-2:3 – How did God design humanity and what was His assessment after creating? (2:4-25 is an expansion of the creation of humanity. This is great reading, but optional for now).
  • Genesis 3 – What choice did Eve make, then Adam? What were the results?

Print out the free PDF article on Back to the Beginning. Read it before we meet. Mark it up. Make it your own. Bring your observations and questions to your interactive SmallGroup.

Week Three:  Three Training Tiers

Read and reread these following verses on your own each day for a week. Jot down your thoughts on Mark 1:15 and John 1:19-51. Then on the fifth or sixth day add the article following as a free PDF link. Mark it up. Bring your observations and questions to your interactive SmallGroup.

Come with your thoughts to your group as both a learner and a teacher.

What are some of the marks of the strategy Jesus practiced? Jot down your own summary before continuing as preparation for an interactive dialog about being and making disciples.

Print out the free PDF articles on Jesus Trains through Three Tiers. Read it before we meet. Mark it up. Make it your own. Come with your observations, uplifts and questions to your SmallGroup as both a learner and a teacher.

Week Four:  Come Meet Jesus

Read and reread these following verses on your own each day for a week. Jot down your thoughts on Mark 1:15; Matthew 7:13-14; Matthew 11:28-30; Luke 6:46-48; Colossians 1:28-29 and John 13:34-35 without any outside help like Bible footnotes or commentaries. Then on the fifth or sixth day read the following. Come with your thoughts and question to explore together in your SmallGroup as both a learner and a teacher.

Print out the free PDF articles on Come Meet Jesus. Read it before we meet. Mark it up. Make it your own.

Week Five:  Jesus Makes Disciples

Read and reread these following verses on your own each day for a week. Jot down your thoughts on Mark 1:15-3:12. This is a longer reading than the previous ones and will focus on rapid reading to discover the Big-picture and key, repeated elements.

Then on the fifth or sixth day add the following article from this free PDF link for Jesus Makes Disciples. Come with your thoughts to your group as both a learner and a teacher.

Let’s continue to dialog interactively about Jesus’ strategy for making disciples from what we have read so far. Verbalizing fresh insights or previous ones deepens these in our hearts.

What’s Next?

As His people, we are caught up with Him in His epic adventure of exploration and discovery to restore His lost world of people to intimacy with the Father.

His people have the awesome privilege to partner with Him in His unchanging plan for the ages…before we fully understand. Our little stories now have eternal meaning because they are lived out within His Big Story. His unfinished mission defines our call as individuals and together as local faith-communities. It’s staggering that the same God who spoke the entire universe into existence desires to partner with me as one of His intimate allies.

DiscipleMaking like Jesus is not a cookie-cutter operation. Jesus built enough flexibility and adaptability into His strategy, so disciples flourish with any skill set in every culture in any generation, like new wineskins.

So, gather your SmallGroup together around Jesus to decide what’s next after these five weeks together.

The best way I have seen to multiply disciple is Jesus’ strategy from His Source. In interactive SmallGroups of 3-5, become active learners from the Lord who put it into practice in their own lives.

Finishing “Come & See” Well

It’s OK to take a break for a few weeks to decide, like Jesus’ 1st century disciples.

Be sensitive to the season each is in, and where each is with their commitment to Jesus. Perhaps make another short time commitment, from five to seven weeks before reevaluating again. After all, Jesus is the Discipler and each member has joint ownership, even if one may be “first among” the group because of spiritual maturity. With Jesus at the center, your SmallGroups of 3-5 (plus Jesus) could go in numerous directions.

“There is no substitute for getting with people, and it is ridiculous to imagine that anything less, short of a miracle, can develop strong Christian leadership. After all, if Jesus, the Son of God, found it necessary to stay almost constantly with his few disciples for three years, and even one of them was lost, how can a church expect to do this job on an assembly line basis a few days out of the year?” (Robert E. Coleman, The Master’s Plan of Evangelism).

It’s similar today with a SmallGroup as Jesus is in the center.

I designed curriculum with this flexible, adaptable, interactive style of learning in mind to more naturally reproduce. Now for me, curriculum is not what’s most crucial in DiscipleMaking. Material acts like the walls in a bumper car track. The walls keep the cars moving within certain boundaries although the bumper cars have a great range of choice in how each steers.

“Jesus intended for the disciples to produce his likeness in and through the church being gathered out of the world. Thus his ministry in the Spirit would be duplicated many-fold by his ministry in the lives of his disciples. Through them and others like them it would continue to expand in an ever enlarging [circle.] By this strategy the conquest of the world was only a matter of time and their faithfulness to his plan” (Robert E. Coleman, The Master’s Plan of Evangelism).

To top off the “Come & See” training tier before launching beyond, consider the following together. What I have published is all available on Amazon.com at a low price for your convenience.

  • Discover the Welcoming Heart of Jesusis a guide through the Gospel of John with a minimum of helps. The first article in the Appendix (Rapid & Repeated Reading through John) accelerates the reading to seven weeks with three chapters per week. This hones these two essential skills for Bible study.
  • Although you must choose your pace, I would suggest you consider if your SmallGroup will commit to three chapters per week for seven weeks through the Gospel of John. Explore together how Jesus relates with people by welcoming each where she/he is, then nudging toward the Father’s heart to the degree He senses openness. Drink deeply of who Jesus is, the most astounding person to ever walk this earth. Seeing Jesus accurately accelerates insight into all te other Scripture.

Dialog with each other and with the Master-Discipler, Jesus. What’s next, Jesus?” Some may not now have the time in this present season to step up their commitment and want to choose to remain in “Come & See” for now. Bless them and stay relationally connected.

For a free PDF copy of much of this closing section aimed at the future, click here.

Moving on to “Come & Follow Me”

How will we know when our SmallGroup is ready to move on from “Come & See” to “Come & Follow Me”?

Check in often with the Master-Discipler.

It’s fine to stay for a while longer to focus on your felt needs and seek answers to basic questions. However, I’m still exploring and discovering answers after 40+ years. “Come & See” is a necessary gathering spot, but a poor long-term resting place. When you are ready to give it away to others, here area few ideas.

  1. If your small group comes out of a religious background and struggles with law-keeping that blocks our extensive freedom in Christ, I compiled key chapters that will help explore this theme in more detail for fifteen weeks. It’s called Jesus Sows a Culture of Freedom to lay a solid foundation built on freedom in Christ as our culture.
  2. I wrote an 8-part series (5-6 weeks each) called DiscipleMaking Companion that functions as your companion through key books of the Bible, each with a key topic applicable for every follower of Jesus. Each acts as a “cultural architect” laying out a flexible “blue print” to aid the group with a clear process for building a community of doers of God’s Love-Letter. I would suggest Philippians Joy Overflowing, Word & Spirit (the first one), then Ephesians 1-3, Your Identity in Christ. Then decide whether to move together through the next six now or swing back later.

Context is king as we study.

We learn best when we have a larger framework on which to hang the details we learn. Perhaps your group is ready for these next two Big-picture, rapid reading suggestions before swinging back to finish the DiscipleMaking Companion series. Decide in your SmallGroup with your Master-Teacher, Jesus.

  1. 90-Day Engagement with the New Testament is a rapid read. This guides the group through the NT by reading 2-4 chapters a day. This may be a bit of a stretch as we sharpen the skill of rapid reading. If you commute, perhaps substitute for part of your “reading” active listening to the Bible on your phone (com, free) or on CD’s. The group dynamic and interaction help motivate as we do this together.
  2. The next suggestion also provides a Big-picture framework. 13 OT Biographies + Proverbs guides you through an extended reading of the historical section of the Old Testament, then focuses on one event in each of the lives of these heroes of the faith for our gathered time
  3. . Again, the reading is 2-4 chapters per day, but the discipline of this for the two 3-month studies stretches you beyond where you may go on your own.

It will probably take a year+ to work through these. Jesus was not in a rush to train His disciples, so follow His example. Decide together with Jesus what’s next.

“We should not expect a great number to begin with, nor should we desire it. The best work is always done with a few. Better to give a year [to a few] who learn what it means to conquer for Christ than to spend a lifetime…just keeping the program going. Nor does it matter how small or inauspicious the beginning may be; what counts is that those to whom we do give priority in our life learn to give it away. [The tipping point] in all these instructions was that the mission of his disciples was not different in principle or method from his own. He began by giving them his own authority and power to do his work (Mark 6:7; Matt. 10:1; Luke 9:1), and he closed by assuring them that what they were doing was as though he was doing it himself” (Robert E. Coleman, The Master’s Plan of Evangelism).

Now What?

Perhaps another few months together to focus on a bit more may be best for your SmallGroup. I have a number of other DiscipleMaking helps that will be your companion to get the group directly into God’s word (see my webpage, Freder’s Favorites/Available on Amazon.com). Expand this style of studying the Bible in a SmallGroup to whatever book of the Bible your group chooses. You have a lifetime to mine this amazing treasure in God’s Word.

However, please view your SmallGroup as a launching pad to multiply, rather than your permanent landing spot.

Then perhaps your SmallGroup might sense Jesus’ nudge to launch out to DiscipleMaking by multiplying other groups of 3-5. Perhaps two may join together to multiply disciples through SmallGroups and some may launch their own SmallGroup. Begin now to keep your eyes open and foster those relationships, so you also reproduce Jesus’ strategy for life. Each group will look different, so don’t seek to reproduce the exact experience. Jesus has a unique experience flowing from the same Source within the same flexible strategy.

Ask advice from your Master Discipler, Jesus!

This ground swell of growth began slowly with Jesus’ disciples since exponential growth begins slowly. It’s the Kingdom math of exponential multiplication to which Jesus has also called us (3 become 9, and 9 become 27, 27 become 81, multiplying to the 4th generation, 2 Tim. 2:2.

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2).

Paul passed the baton on to Timothy, Tim to faithful followers of Jesus who pass it on to others, four generations.

Start me with ten who are stout-hearted men and I will soon give you 10,000 more (Oscar Hammerstein in New Moon).

Jesus has called each of us to be His companion on this epic adventure to rescue, redeem and restore others to the Father’s loving heart, one after another.

Jesus has called each of us to be His companion on this epic adventure to rescue, redeem and restore others to the Father’s loving heart, one after another.

What are you investing your life into?

For a free PDF copy of much of this closing section aimed at the future, click here.