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

In our post on “Building Your Multiplication Process”, we mentioned that we intentionally built processes into our various group gatherings so that the believers will be constantly reminded and enabled to “pass it on” to others. Multiplication will be built into all our environments.

One of the tools we mentioned was the “3 Thirds Process” developed by Ying Kai during his time in China. (See his book, T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution). Kai sought to build a church culture that would expect multiplication to happen. He also wanted to develop a system that would make it simple to pass on. To build this culture and this system, Ying Kay developed what he called the 3 Thirds process. 

3 Thirds Process

Notice that this model is not a specific curriculum for the Bible portion of a Bible study. Rather, it is a well-rounded process used in all the discipleship meetings to ensure that people are getting a vision for multiplication and the tools and practice for multiplication even while being discipled as new believers.

As you can see, many of these elements shown in the chart above would be a part of a normal Bible Study group, Pastoral care, worship, and a Bible lesson could be part of many such small groups. However, in order to transition this meeting from an ordinary Bible study into a multiplying discipleship time, the following elements are essential.

  1. Accountability
  2. Vision Casting
  3. Practice
  4. Goal setting

Accountability

Here are some examples of good accountability questions.

Question about following: How did you obey the lesson last week?

Questions about fishing:

  • Were you able to do last week’s assignment with anybody?
  • Who are you reaching out to?
  • Have you talked with anyone this week about spiritual things?
  • Who are you witnessing to? Who has believed?
  • When are you training them in the same process?
  • Are these new believers witnessing, winning & training others?
  • Are the trainers that you are training, training others?

Of course, the questions should match the stage of discipleship the new disciple is in.

Practice

During the 3rd Third, Ying Kai would have them practice teaching the lesson they had just learned about salvation, assurance, the Great Commission, or prayer, etc.. Then the participants would be asked to set goals for who or how many they would teach it to this week. He would not go on to the next lesson until they had passed it on. He would pray with them and help them pass it on if necessary.

In our ministry, we didn’t always connect the 3rd third directly to the lesson we had just studied. Rather, we used this part of the discipleship time to help them gradually learn the skills of living their lives as witnesses. After the time in the Word (the 2nd Third), we would train them in one simple skill each session and have them develop or use it that week.  We continued working on that one skill until they had done it. The skills we sought to develop in Pathway Community Church were as follows:

Training actions and goals for Pathway Community Church

3rd Third for Lesson 1

Action:

  • Have your disciple write down names from their network of relationships (their oikos) of people who need to hear the Gospel and need salvation.
  • Then have them identify 3 people (3 key contacts) from the list who they think may be more open to the Gospel and that they will begin praying for.
  • Pray together by name for the 3 key contacts on the list.
  • Pray for opportunities to connect and share the gospel with them.

Disciple’s Goal: Connect with the 3 key contacts through friendship visits or some kind of communication.

3rd Third for Lesson 2

Accountability: Ask your disciple for an update on their 3 key contacts and any progress in connecting with them.

Action:

Introduce a Gospel tract. Explain that times may come up when we can use the Gospel tract as an effective method for sharing the Gospel with our friends, family, or acquaintances. We want to be ready when opportunity comes! Beginning with your own witnessing testimony, share the Gospel with the disciples using the Gospel tract. Give disciples the tract to take home and become familiar with.

  • Encourage them to use the Gospel tract with someone if the opportunity comes up.
  • Pray for progress with the 3 key contacts.

Disciple’s Goals:

  • Become familiar with the Gospel tract.
  • Continue reaching out to the 3 key contacts.
  • Pray by name for each of the 3 key contacts, asking God for opportunities to connect and share the gospel with them this week.

3rd Third for Lesson 3

Accountability:

  • Ask your disciple for an update on their 3 key contacts and any progress in connecting with them. Did you pray by name for the 3 key contacts? Did you make an effort to call/text or communicate in some way with your 3 key contacts?
  • Did you review the gospel tract?

Action:

Introduce a “Witnessing Testimony”, a personal and powerful tool to use in introducing the gospel. Choose one thing in your life that changed when you met Jesus. For example, it could be a fear (of dying, of rejection by others, of separation from your family, etc.), an addiction that you couldn’t get over, or feeling far from God. It could be guilt, feeling dirty and unworthy, anxiety, loneliness, regret, bitterness, resentment, or marriage problems. Illustrate this concept with a personal experience from your life. Briefly share how that one area of your life changed as you came to learn truths from God that are written in His Word.

Then teach them a transition statement. Have them memorize this sentence, “For a while I didn’t know how to tell other people that I cared for about what had really happened to me, but I have this little booklet that helps explain it clearly, and I’d like to share it with you.”

You may give your own witnessing testimony again, as an example, if needed. Again, pray for progress with the 3 key contacts.

Disciple’s Goals:

  • Prepare their own short witnessing testimony. Bring their written witnessing testimony to share next week.
  • Continue to pray by name for the 3 key contacts.
  • Continue friendship visits or some kind of communication with each of the 3 key contacts.

3rd Third for Lesson 4

Accountability:

  • Did you write out your witnessing testimony?
  • As you wrote your witnessing testimony, how did you see God’s handiwork in your life?
  • Ask for an update on their contacts and any progress with them.

Action:

  • Go over disciples’ prepared witnessing testimony. Give feedback and suggestions for improvement, if any.
  • Pray by name for progress with the 3 key contacts.

Disciple’s Goals:

  • Make corrections to your witnessing testimony for improvement, if necessary.
  • Practice saying your witnessing testimony along with the gospel tract. Prepare to share it to your facilitator next week.
  • Pray for each contact by name and ask God for opportunities to share the gospel with them.

3rd Third for Lesson 5

Accountability: Update on contacts and progress with them.

Action:

  • Have your disciple share with you their witnessing testimony along with the gospel tract. Give your disciple pointers for improvement. Be encouraging! This can be intimidating and awkward for your disciple. Encourage your disciple to keep practicing.
  • Pray for progress with the 3 key contacts.

Disciple’s Goals:

  • Continue friendship visits or some kind of communication with the 3 key contacts.
  • Again, pray by name for each contact and opportunities to share the gospel.
  • Share your witnessing testimony along with the gospel tract with at least one of your key contacts.

3rd Third for Lesson 6

Accountability:

  • Update on contacts and progress with them. Are any of them willing to attend a community group or do an evangelistic Bible study?
  • Did you share your witnessing testimony along with the gospel tract with someone?

Action:

  • Pray for progress with the 3 key contacts.
  • Have your disciple share their witnessing testimony along with the gospel tract with you. Remember: practice, practice, practice!
  • Encourage your disciple to share the gospel with their contacts. Offer to go with them if it would be helpful.
  • Pray for progress with the 3 key contacts.

Disciple’s Goals:

  • Pray for opportunities to share the gospel and boldness in sharing the gospel when God opens up opportunities.
  • Continue building relationships with your 3 key contacts.
  • Share the gospel with at least one person.

3rd Third for Lesson 7:

Accountability:

  • How are you progressing in building friendships with your 3 key contacts?
  • Did you have any spiritual conversations this week?
  • Did you share the gospel with anyone this week?

Action:

  • Give advice/suggestions for next steps to move contacts forward.
  • Offer to go with your disciple to share the gospel with a friend.
  • Pray for progress with the 3 key contacts.

Disciple’s Goals:

  • Continue to connect and share with the 3 key contacts. Find creative ways in building relationships with them — i.e., meet for coffee, go out to lunch/dinner, call/text, go out on an outing and do something fun together, etc..
  • Share the gospel with someone this week.

3rd Third for Lesson 8

Accountability: Update on contacts and progress with them.

Action:

  • Give advice/suggestions for next steps to move the contacts forward.
  • Pray together by name for the 3 key contacts.
  • Encourage disciples to “pass it on” to a new believer. Help them share the gospel to someone and help them get started in discipling someone else (maybe by starting an evangelistic Bible study).

Disciple’s Goals:

  • Continue to pray by name for the 3 key contacts.
  • Pay attention to God’s guidance and opportunities to share the gospel. Rely on God and be bold in sharing the gospel.
  • Continue friendship visits for connection and sharing the gospel with the 3 key people.

3rd Third for Lesson 9 and following

Accountability: Follow up on action steps set from previous meeting. Update on contacts and progress with them.

Action:

  • Give advice/suggestions for next steps to move the contacts forward.
  • Pray by name together for the 3 key contacts.
  • Encourage your disciple to “pass it on.”

Disciple’s Goals:

  • Keep practicing your witnessing testimony. Practice it with your family.
  • Continue friendship visits or some kind of communication with the 3 key contacts.
  • Once again, pray for your 3 key contacts.
  • Help them start discipling any new believers.

Building in multiplication into the process

So, we adopted this 3 Thirds principle and process, not in house churches, but as part of our larger church’s disciple-making process. 

In every meeting with someone for an evangelistic Bible Study, we started with care and prayer, and at the end we asked them, “What in this lesson impacted you?” and “Who will you share that with this week?” So even before they came to faith, they were already learning to share what they were learning with others. 

Every discipleship meeting with new believers ended with the 3rd third. We discussed with them how they could reach others and gave them step-by-step tools and simple assignments to do that.

Every community group meeting ended with a time of reporting, planning and praying for outreach which all the group members were doing. We discussed and prayed about what the group could do together. 

We built it in.

I would like to hear from you if you have a process tool to build multiplication into your discipleship.

This blog post was originally posted to the TEAM church planting blog at A Multiplication Tool – 3 Thirds Process (goandplant.com). It is republished with permission from the author.

Series Navigation<< Multiplication Process Development in Ministry: Strategies and Tools

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