Plan Your Discipleship Process Sequentially

Do you want to develop basic disciple-making practices, but serve in a weekend-only culture?

Every church should have a clear, simple process for making disciples. Does yours?

Almost every church engages in some form of discipleship. When a pastor uses the Bible in a sermon, or a leader opens the Scriptures to a small group, the church is providing the initial phases, but lasting discipleship must go far beyond that.

If a new Christian who attends weekend worship services only asked for help in becoming more like Christ, what would your answer be? Would everyone in leadership give the same answer? Do you share a clear, simple first step? Followed by a second step?

But this is important for more than just a “new” Christian. How are you intentionally and methodically helping other believers to deepen their walk with Christ? How can you impact a “weekend only” culture and begin to instill basic disciple-making practices into your church’s life?

Solution: Plan Your Discipleship Process Sequentially

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Simple Church, by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger

The simple revolution is here. From the design of Apple products to Google’s uncluttered homepage, simple ideas are changing the world.

Simple Church guides Christians back to the simple gospel-sharing methods of Jesus. No bells or whistles required. With insights based on case studies of 400 American churches, Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger prove the disciple-making process is often too complex. Simple churches thrive by taking four ideas to heart:

Clarity. Movement. Alignment. Focus.

Simple Church examines each idea, clearly showing why it is time to simplify. This updated edition includes a new chapter with further insights the authors have gained through hundreds of conversations with church leaders since this landmark book’s original release.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Congestion on a busy highway is no picnic for commuters wanting to get to their destination. Many times it’s simply a matter of inadequate design of the highway for the number of cars currently occupying it.

Congestion in your head or chest prevents proper airflow to the lungs. Reduced airflow to the lungs means your body is not functioning as it was designed.

Congestion causes pain when traffic makes you late or shallow breaths make even simple tasks complex. Congestion in your church is painful, too. Church congestion occurs when competing programs or ministries result in lots of activity, but little or no movement in a person’s spiritual growth.

According to the Scriptures, believers should become more and more like Christ. Movement and transformation is implied, but church congestion slows or prevents growth.

One step away from a “weekend only” culture may require the decongestant of simplicity.

Simple church leaders have learned the wisdom of sequential programing. By placing the programs in sequence along the process, the programs truly become tools to facilitate the process of transformation.

As you sequentially place programs along your ministry process, here are three essentials to guide your thinking.

Order the sequence of your programs to reflect your process. In other words, the order of the programming must flow from the order of the process. If you place the programs sequentially, people will move through your process simply by moving from one program to the next. As people are progressing through the programming, they will simultaneously move through the process that God has given your church.

Designate a clear entry point to your process. The entry point is the first level of programming in your simple process. Without a clear entry point, there is no beginning to the process. When a process lacks a clear beginning, it is definitely not simple.

The entry point is the program through which people are most likely to enter your church. It is the weekly program that guests are most likely to attend. It is the program you encourage your people to invite friends to attend.

Identify the next levels of programming. Just as you have designated an entry point, identify the next levels of programming in your process. What program do you desire people to attend after they have been to your entry-point program? What is the program you want them to attend after that?

– Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger, Simple Church

A NEXT STEP

Does your church have a simple process designed to move people along a path to maturity in Christ?

At your next team meeting, create a fictional person named Joe Grow whose life your team will use to illustrate your process. Using a whiteboard or chart tablet, create a narrative of how Joe Grow came to Christ at your church, listing programs, activities, or processes. Continue to develop the story of Joe Grow’s faith journey toward full Christian maturity.

After completing Joe Grow’s journey, step back and look at your current church programming. Ask these refining questions:

  • What potential areas of congestion or confusion appear in the gap between what should be and what is?
  • Does Joe Grow’s faith journey follow a clearly defined process?
  • Are there currently multiple processes attempting to achieve the same result?
  • Are next steps clear in each program or process?
  • Are there multiple programs for each process, resulting in divided attention and energy?

After these careful considerations, guide your leadership team to exit the congested highway of church busyness toward a simple, yet effective, pattern of disciple-making.


The real beauty in clarifying, focusing, and strengthening the disciple-making process of your church is this: the people who are growing will, by nature, take other people along with them.

Growing people grow people. Consuming people consume programs.

Without stating and integrating a simpler, intentional disciple-making process, your church will remain stuck in a bottleneck of the status quo and “weekend only” follow-ship.

With a simple but sequential process, your church can develop an effectiveness of growing disciples.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 11-2, published March 2015


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.