Personal Discipleship Process

A Roadmap for Personal Discipleship

Once we are convinced that Discipleship should be personal as Jesus, Paul, and others modeled, we may be asking: how do we get started? It can be helpful to have an overview or "Roadmap" about the personal discipleship process. Here is a simple overview of the 4 major phases of personal discipleship: (1) Recruit, (2) Plan, (3) Implement, & (4) Assess. You will notice "Video Resources," "Supplemental Resources," and Primary Resources embedded in each phase. Be sure to download and prioritize the Primary Resources as indicated in the Gray Boxes, and refer to other resources as needed.

Phase 1: Recruit

Pray ~ Jesus gave us the model for how to recruit disciples and Jesus started with prayer.

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles… (Luke 6:12–13 ESV)

Look ~ Look around at the people God has put in your life. God is sovereign. He has put us in this job, in this church, in this neighborhood, in this family, with these friends, at this time for a reason.

Select ~ As you prayerfully consider the people in your social circles and at church, then it is time to make some decisions.
And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. (Mark 3:13 ESV)
Invite ~ Once you decide on your top discipleship candidates, you just need to ask.  In your invitation, you should communicate the purpose and value of the discipleship relationship:
Purpose: Why would you meet together?
Value: What will each of you potentially get out of it?

Follow-up ~ Finally, you need to follow-up with the person(s) you invited. Barring special circumstances (like them being out of town for awhile), be sure to follow-up with them soon. One week is probably the minimum. One month is probably the maximum. After that, the ball is in their court.

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Supplemental Resources

Video Resources:

“The best way to think about the process of making disciples is to consider what you want to see in well discipled people. Then you can think backward, determining what will be necessary to reach those goals.” ~ Dennis McCallum

Supplemental Resources

Phase 2: Plan

Share Stories ~Start with sharing your stories with each other. This would include things like: upbringing, family, job, hobbies, and personal testimony. It can be difficult to clearly communicate our personal testimony. In such cases, the Personal Testimony Worksheet can be a very useful tool.
Complete Self-Evaluations ~ Next it is time for each person to evaluate where they are at in their own spiritual development. Of course spiritual maturity involves every part of our life: what we know, who we are, and what we do. We like to utilize the basic categories of: HEAD, HEART, & HANDS as a framework to think about our spiritual progress.
Set Personal Growth Goals ~ After an honest self-evaluation, talk through the results together. It may be helpful to compare your results with the Discipleship Milestones. This document summarizes healthy milestones we should strive for in our own spiritual journey, and organizes these milestones in the framework of HEAD, HEART, & HANDS. As one author states...
While it would be nice to change everything at once, it is not wise or possible. Instead, try selecting 2-4 growth goals under each category of: HEAD, HEART, & HANDS. You can summarize & articulate your goals in the Personal Development Plan.
Select Study Materials ~ Next, once you have established the areas in which you want to grow, you should select materials that will help you accomplish your goals. With so many resources out there, it can be difficult to know where to start. It is hard to go wrong with simply selecting a book of the Bible to read through together. If you need some guidance for specific resources that align with specific goals, feel free to use the Connecting Goals With Resources guide.
Meetings & Covenant ~ To be intentional in your discipleship plan we recommend regular structured meetings together that include a time of catching up, covering the study material(s) & assignments, prayer, and accountability. Speaking of accountability, one way to emphasize the importance of the discipleship relationship you are entering into, we recommend that you consider making a covenant about what you are committing to do together. Feel free to revise & utilize the Discipleship Covenant below.

Phase 3: Implement

Set the example ~ If you are in a mentoring relationship or facilitating a personal discipleship group, the standard is not perfection but progress. Like the apostle Paul, we want to be able to say, "imitate me as I imitate Christ, " (1 Cor. 11:1). Or as one author has said:

"We teach what we know but we reproduce who we are." 
~ John Maxwell

Make the most of your structured meetings 
~Time is our most valuable resource and it will be a sacrifice to spend the time needed for intentional spiritual growth together. So make the most of your meetings by coming prepared, praying beforehand, covering the assigned material, and making it personal.

Spend unstructured time together 
~ Discipleship is not just taught, it is also caught. Jesus spent all kinds of time with his disciples in the context of everyday life. Seek to spend time together outside of your regular structured discipleship meetings.

So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.  
(1 Thessalonians 2:8 ESV)

You can eat together, share a hobby, work on a project, attend an event, etc. So much can be learned about & from one another in these contexts.

Pray regularly for them & follow up
~ Perhaps the best thing you can do for the people you are discipling is to pray for them regularly. Keep track of their prayer requests & praises. Be sure to follow-up on these so both of you can see God's hand in your lives.

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Supplemental Resources

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Supplemental Resources

Phase 4: Assess

Complete a review of goals ~You should review the personal development goals every 3-6 months. As you assess the progress made, be sure to refer back to the Discipleship Milestones Guide utilized during Step 2. You could also refer to the Personal Evaluation Form again to identify progress in the 9 sub-categories under the HEAD, HEART, HANDS framework. Be sure to celebrate what God has done in & through each of you during this time period.

Update the plan 
~ This is a good time to update your Personal Development Plan. You may want to select brand new goals to cover other areas for growth, or you may want to retain existing goals & update the strategy to make progress on your goals. Be sure that everyone is clear on what you will be working on for the next 3-6 months.

Release & Multiply
~ Every personal discipleship relationship is unique, and so is the amount of time you decide to work together. Whether it is 3 months or 3 years together, Lord willing, your disciple(s) will be ready to go and make disciples of their own. You should celebrate this moment & encourage them to follow Paul's charge:

What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2 ESV)

~ Just because your formal discipleship relationship has come to a conclusion, it doesn't mean that the opportunity to help & encourage your disciple is over. We highly recommend moving into a casual coaching relationship where you connect with your disciple on their personal growth & ministry every 1-2 months.