What is a DiscipleMaking Companion Series?
I have a passion to help Jesus raise up radical disciples.
A disciple is a learner. Not merely a learner of information, but a life–learner & doer. My vision aligns with Jesus’ vision to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:20). So I call this series “DiscipleMaking Companion,” your companion as you take the truth of Scripture to encounter your daily life.
These are “more than a Bible study,” not about accumulating information, although we will grow in our knowledge of Scripture. The Bible is God’s invitation into fuller life. We experience God’s offer through obedience-focused learning. Doing God’s Word reveals true knowledge.
That’s one reason we have “flipped” the common learning process to first prepare and respond before we gather so we each bring fresh bread.
provides a simple, flexible structure with a measured pace that releases freedom in learning and doing. This powerful, easy-to-use and reproducible approach builds deep relationships around Scripture with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and with other group members.
These eight incremental 5-week studies are more than the typical Bible study, although they include this. I designed these as your companion to accompany Christians toward personal LifeChange producing radical disciples who make other disciples on their spiritual journey.
uniquely focuses innovative, cutting-edge learning theory on foundational books of the Bible to “get them under our belts.” Each week blends relational modeling, Biblical responsiveness and intentional God-assignments while also integrating intimate worship and an encouragement toward compassionate mission.
Over time, these five great pathways to live out our daily God-assignments through the empowering of the Spirit develop radical followers of Jesus. Good habits form more quickly with such daily, incremental choices than with hit and miss “when-I-find-time” responses. Now a year is fifty-two weekly incremental steps toward LifeChange.
…the primary factor common to all who have achieved great success is first laying a solid foundation through “deliberate practice.” “Deliberate practice” embraces the watchful eye of a competent coach as we respond to all the little things asked of us.
Such a “whole-person” approach ultimately releases the greatest freedom and effectiveness. With Biblical responsiveness, approach the text as if you were there. Our inquisitive minds and our enlivened affections/emotions then trigger our will to activate truth in us and for others. Such a wholehearted “learning soil” aligns with our innate ability to learn creatively and so releases LifeChange out of the overflow of God’s life within.
My desire is “to teach you to fish and not merely to give you a fish.”
To this end, I encourage you to aim to read (or listen to) the weekly passage daily prior to the weekly meeting to develop lifelong habits that work for you. Rapidly reading the entire book once per week also aids healthy BIG-small-BIG natural learning. Mark up the accompanying Bible text and add your insights to the very helpful S-T-U-D-Y tool at the end of the material, if you wish. In time, you will want to download the Bible text yourself so you can personally discover the flow of the passage for yourself.
“God has not hidden truth from us, but for us to increase our delight in Him.”
Our Resident Teacher, the Spirit of God, partners with us to release life through active learning, if we give Him the chance.
Begin with one DiscipleMaking Companion. I recommend the first one, but any works. Gather two or three others together and get started. These are all free PDF downloads because I long to see Christians reach toward their full potential for what God has promised us.
Foundation for Discipleship
1. Joy Overflowing: Foundation of Word & Spirit (Philippians) –
“Mining God’s Word” as a read-along
2. God’s Unchanging Original Intent (6 weeks): Foundation to Know God, Know Self (Genesis 1-15) –
“Big God! Bold Design, Book 1,” Chapters 1-3 as a read-along
3. Renewed Identity in Christ: Foundation to See Ourselves as God Does (either 6 weeks [suggested] or 5 weeks) (Ephesians 1-3) – “Created Community” as a read-along
4. We Carry Christ’s Authority: Foundation of Kingdom & Family (Mark)-“Big God! Bold Design,” Book 1, Chapters 4 as a read-along
Values of Discipleship
5. Disciples Multiplying Disciples: Assignment To: Make & Multiply Disciples (1 Thessalonians) – “Cultivating DiscipleMaking Communities” as a read-along
6. Compassionate Mission: Assignment To: An Outwardly Focused Life
(1 Peter) -Pursued by Community as a read-along (rough draft)
7. Intimate Worship: Assignment To God’s Presence & Prayer
(Selected Psalms) – “Enjoying God’s Presence” as a read-along
8. Life-on-Life Community: Assignment To: Generously Share our Life (Ephesians 4-6) –
“Created Community” as a read-along
I normally print these “Companions” front/back (standard US size, 8″ X 11″). The applicable chapter is on one side and S-T-U-D-Y on the back. This makes it easier for first-time people, or if some forget to bring their sheet. Also, one sheet is so simple, it does not overwhelm anyone). However, it should be formatted properly for “booklet.” Then the applicable chapter and S-T-U-D-Y are on facing pages (print front/back and staple).
NOTE: For most of these, a Level II Engagement is an option to do more than the minimum.
For more rapid growth, this adds one or two outside books to read along with the self-contained “DiscipleMaking Companion” (see right two columns on the matrix above or at the end of any of the above “Companions”). The group can do this together or any member can do this personally.
Capstone: Doing the Stuff (12 weeks, currently a rough draft) – The books of Luke & Acts, both written by Luke, form a single perspective to recognize how those in the 1st century church in Acts understood the teaching and mandate of Jesus for growth and expansion. The project is a big-picture look to tie all eight of the together as a launching point to the next season on your journey.
Following are a number of other options to widen your grasp of Scripture beyond the eight-part foundational “DiscipleMaking Companion” series.
These use the same learning ideas as in the other “Companions,” and broaden us toward other key Bible books. This learning style can also be used on any books of the Bible your group chooses to study.
John 13-17: Flourishing Spiritual Life (5 weeks) – Jesus’ “Upper Room” time with His disciples in John 13-17.
Sermon on the Mount: A Journey in Healthy Relationships (5 weeks) – Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7.
Leadership Letters: A Journey as a Servant-Leader (5 weeks) – The Pastoral Letters, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus.
1 John: Authentic Life (5 weeks) – The book of 1 John is short, but packed with a dynamic, relational view of koinonia in community. See also booklet read-along on 1 John, Radical Mutuality.
Proverbs: A Journey of Generous Stewardship (5 Weeks) – Proverbs as a distinct teaching on stewardship, owning nothing personally, yet using all God’s abundance for our Master.
James: Wisdom for Real Life (6 weeks) – The book of James is direct, practical, life-impacting. James speaks to those who have wandered. He calls Jesus’ Bride back to the jealous heart of our Lover, even while challenging those of us who are all-in to live wholeheartedly for Him.
Colossians: Standing Against the Tide (5 weeks) – This short, but powerful, book parallels are contemporary society. How can a church stay true to the Gospel and new life in Christ in a pluralistic society?
Twelve Old Testament Biographies (12 weeks) – This “sprint” guides the learner through the historical portions of the OT through the lens of biographies of ten people that stood out in their segment of history.
Additional Thoughts On DiscipleMaking Companion:
Of course, no companion on a journey can automatically produce change in you. We must add our hard work to this God-breathed message (2 Timothy 3:16-17). I have interwoven cutting edge scientific studies on how people best learn and how our brain works so that our hard work brings more spiritual return.
Now we can align with high-leverage learning that shapes and forms us. Together with our hard work, these “Companions” can move us as learners from Jesus’ “Come & See” training stage to the higher commitment in “Come & Follow” and then on to “Come & Be with Me” (see under Disciples Making Disciples).
Nothing changes us from the inside out more solidly than a regular, daily ingestion of God’s Word. Let’s “master” one book after another. So I encourage each of us to aim at reading the chapter or passage each day for one week to grow as a lifelong life-learner.
My desire is “to teach you to fish and not merely to give you a fish.”
To this end, I encourage each of you to aim to read (or listen to) the weekly passage daily prior to the weekly meeting to develop lifelong habits that work for you. Rapidly reading the entire book once per week also aids healthy BIG-small-BIG natural learning. Either mark up the text downloaded from a Bible app or use the very helpful S-T-U-D-Y tool on your own as an active learner. Take extra effort to put this into daily practice in your life, the key to growth. Then you will also bring fresh bread for the group. Developing good habits forms more quickly with daily, incremental choices than with hit and miss “when-I-find-time” responses.
I offer two-levels of engagement to learners in “DiscipleMaking Companion,” depending on time and desire to invest, and what we want out of our time.
Level I: Engage how you are able, doing only the weekly Discover S-T-U-D-Y and Dialog portion of each “DiscipleMaking Companion.”
Level II: Add to the “DiscipleMaking Companion” the additional reading notated after each “Companion” above. If you have time and intrinsic motivation for this, your spiritual growth will accelerate and deepen. Much of this is a free PDF download from “Books & Bible Resources,” “Books by Jim Fredericks.“
Let me give you a few thoughts about these “Companions” to whet your appetite. These ideas naturally braid themselves throughout the learning, virtually invisible except to the perceptive eye.
First, each of the first eight “Companions” are only 5-weeks long. The short commitment makes it easier to challenge others to enter in with you. It’s easy to re-up once we have experienced change in our lives.
Second, each DiscipleMaking Companion goes through one book of the Bible or an extended passage. We get directly into Scripture itself, soaking in one chapter each week. God designed our minds to learn like this, rather than gathering scattered bits and pieces from all over. When we study geography, we first look at a globe, before focusing on one continent, then the rivers, mountains and plains. We learn best one layer at a time.
Third, our minds learn best when we have clear categories under which to file new information. Each companion for DiscipleMaking has one major category or theme to help our minds retain in a way we can later access.
Fourth, if we only read or listen, learning retention is 5-10%. This accelerates to 70% if we respond to what we learned, and up to 90% if we also pass along what we learned to others.
Fifth, every companion for DiscipleMaking begins with one thing each group member is grateful for. A thankful heart lifts our thoughts God-ward and prepares for insight.
I could continue…but I would rather you plunge in and experience learning for yourself. And we must add our hard work to release insight from the Holy Spirit. Become like the hard-working farmer who adds his hard work to the good fruitful soil.
Choose one of the eight and dive in!
I believe in layer learning (building one incremental layer on top of what has previously been learned). So the Level THREE Bible Learning skills of “4 I’s for Insight” easily incorporate into the “DiscipleMaking Companion” series since it’s flexible enough. After forty-plus years, I still study and teach similar to “DiscipleMaking Companion” and simply add additional skills I have collected over the years.
If a person comes across this who wants to know the underlying WHY? in the “Companions,” click here for a short PDF describing how the pieces fit together.
Happy mining of the most precious resource we have access to!
Yorba Linda, CA