July 12, 2024
This entry is part 11 of 11 in the series Church planting

The right materials and methods won’t result in multiplication unless we have developed an intentional process designed to multiply.

A long process of learning

I was speaking to a group of missionaries in Asia about developing a ministry of multiplying disciple-makers. I was telling them how we had developed a process in our church plant where we were making disciples who make disciples who make disciples. At that point, one of the missionaries asked me how long it took us to develop that process.

I didn’t exactly know how to answer that question. After all, it was a cumulation of learning things over the years and of trying and developing methods and processes.

Collecting the right tools

During 33 years as a church planter, I was constantly looking for or modifying or developing materials to be more effective in…

  • connecting with and evangelizing the lost
  • discipling new believers
  • providing for long term discipleship
  • equipping of laborers and leaders

So, part of the process was getting the right tools and methods that were effective through God’s blessing, and were simple enough to equip ordinary believers to use them. Over the years we had found and were using simple tools for adding and discipling new believers. See a previous blog post on the methods and materials that we chose. 

Breakthrough – developing a process

But the breakthrough came when we built these tools into a process. Here are some ways we did that.

2 questions

During our 8 week evangelistic Bible studies (“God’s Gift”) we ended each lesson with these two questions:

    •   What in this lesson really impacted you or what was new to you?
    •   Who can you share this with this week?

    We included these 2 questions in each lesson. Then in the following lessons, we would follow up by asking them how it went. This helped them start passing it on to others even before they themselves had accepted Christ. It also helped enforce these new truths in their hearts.

    3 Thirds

    We used a 12-lesson study, called “New Life In Christ”, for our early discipleship times to establish new believers in the basic essential beliefs in God and habits for growth. During these studies, we used what is called “the 3-thirds” process for each meeting. We learned this from the “T4T” church planting movement developed by Ying Kai, and adapted it for our use.

      We divided the discipleship time into 3 parts known as the Heart, Head and Hands. 

      1.  During the Heart portion, we include time for pastoral/relational care, worship and prayer, accountability for applying last week’s lesson, and some sharing of vision for them doing discipleship.
      2. During the Head portion, we cover a new discipleship lesson from the Word.
      3. During the 3rd third, the Hands portion, we take time to give them basic tools and confidence to begin making disciples of their own. We do this through practice and goal setting.

      4 W’s

      During our community group times, we used what we called the 4 W’s format to ensure that mission and multiplication was always a  part of each meeting. 

      The 4 W’s are Welcome, Worship, Word, and Works.

      1 hour could look like this:

      • Welcome: 10 minutes about the group to make people feel welcome and happy to be there.
      • Worship: 10 minutes all about God, using Scriptures about God, prayers of thanks and worship, and songs using Youtube.
      • Word: 30 minutes about the Word using questions on the passage from the Sunday service and leading to personal application.
      • Works: 10 minutes to focus on outreach and disciple-making, sharing and praying for each one’s contacts, Bible studies, etc. We plan together for outreaches the group or individuals could do.

      So, that is 2 Questions / 3 Thirds / and 4 W’s for the evangelistic Bible studies, discipleship groups and community groups. Each of these is providing a commonly-adopted, memorable process for promoting multiplication in each context.

      The role of leadership

      The leadership of the church provides equipping and training for the members. But the main equipping would hopefully come from the soul winner or disciple-maker who was also been trained by someone else in the same way. We built this into the process.

      Beyond this, we encouraged everyone who led any ministry in the church to have an apprentice. For example, the teacher of the new member class was to have an apprentice if possible. The same held true for the leader of each community group. Furthermore, the worship leader was to be mentoring someone in worship leading. I would ask the drummer whom he was training, the guitarists whom they were equipping, and the Sunday school leaders who they were bringing alongside to learn to teach. 

      Most church leaders feel they need to do all the discipling and teaching and so they can only add people according to their capacity. But when our focus is on making disciple makers and intentionally equipping everyone to pass it on, and we provide the right tools and processes, the ministry can grow beyond the capacity of the leaders themselves.

      In a future blog post, I will share with you how we used the 3rd third of our discipleship time to equip new disciples to pass it on to yet more disciples.

      For further thought

      How could you build a simple process around your current discipleship times that would enable your disciples to learn to do the same with others, reaching the lost and beginning discipleship?

      This blog post was originally posted to the TEAM church planting blog at Building Your Multiplication Process (goandplant.com). It is republished with permission of the author.

      Series Navigation<< Building a Multiplication Process – What will it take?The 3 Thirds Process: building in multiplication >>

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