14 Shifts in Disciple Making and A Framework - A Dynamic E-booklet

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These processes, while described one by one, are not linear or sequential. Each disciple, no matter what his or her level of maturity, should be growing spirally in each of the processes simultaneously. And, although the fourth process involves individuals, it is acted out in community.


This process is relational, and focuses on the connection between the disciple and his or her relationship with God, self, and others—in other words, it has a post-individualistic contour. This is the great and foremost commandment.

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This process involves not only the way we relate to God, but also the way we relate to ourselves, our families, our fellow believers, and our neighbors. It also involves how we function: joined together, as the visible body of Christ Eph , 23; This kind of connecting has a social and communal dimension Acts , which allows the church to function fully as an organic whole.

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Christian discipleship occurs in relationships. Through this transforming connection with Him, we come to know ourselves as Jesus created us to be, we appreciate our infinite value to Him, and we grow into a more balanced view of our strengths and weaknesses. We are then able to connect with those around us in more tangible, healing, and redeeming ways. A dynamic and deepening relationship with Jesus through His Spirit is the bedrock of growth in discipleship. Commitments to that growth include developing an individual identity complete in Christ, developing Christ-centered and tangible relationships within our families and within the local and global body of Christ, and developing positive relationships with those outside the body of Christ with whom He wants to be reconciled.

This process is cognitive and rational, but it includes the experiential as well as the intellectual—it might be said to have a post-rationalistic contour. Relationships grow through deepening by both parties of the understanding of the core identity of each person. It is the same in a relationship with Jesus. Through Scripture we encounter God and come to understand more clearly the character and mission of Christ. Thus, disciples need to learn how to study the Bible, find Jesus in its pages, hear Him speak, and follow Him.

Reading, contemplating, and obeying the Scriptures, along with praying, are methods by which we access the teaching and transforming presence of the Holy Spirit. In the broadest sense, we learn through the Word what God intends us to be and to do, both individually and corporately. We come to understand how our personal story fits into the great meta-narrative of God and His salvation. This biblical worldview is foundational to knowing God and to being transformed into his image. This process relates to service and evangelism.

As they connect with Jesus and learn of His self-sacrificing and unfailing love, they are eager to invite others to share in the joy that they experience as His followers. For a growing disciple, seeking daily opportunities to minister to others is essential. This process combines the personal and the communal aspect, and is the responsibility of both individual disciples and the corporate body to which they belong.

Christ described the church as His body to illustrate the interdependence of the members in achieving its mission. This metaphor helps disciples to understand their role in supporting, nurturing, and strengthening one another. It is within the church that we are discipled and then equipped to disciple others. The Connecting, Understanding, and Ministering processes are all nurtured and supported by the Equipping process.

Growing Christians have the unique opportunity, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, to be discipled by other Christians and in turn, to invest themselves in helping other members to grow spiritually.

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For a growing discipler, helping other disciples learn how to connect with Christ through his Word in a transformational devotional life is an essential commitment. This discipling-teaching aspect of Christian growth, like ministering, involves serving others. But its key role in the gospel commission, as well as the frequent biblical references to building up the community of fellow believers in all three other processes, led to designating Equipping as a separate item in this model.

According to the Together Growing Fruitful Disciples model, the individual processes will function fully in the lives of the individual members of the Christian body only to the extent that the corporate process is functioning, and vice versa—a symbiotic relationship.

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It is important at every level of spiritual maturity for a growing disciple to be concurrently discipling and being discipled by others. The positive influence of encouraging, equipping, and challenging one another in love to grow toward maturity in Christ should flow most strongly from the seasoned disciple to the post-Christian postmodern, however, it should also have a clear channel to flow in the opposite direction.

Christian churches implement the fourth process, equipping, in a variety of ways.

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  5. But the concept of equipping is often neglected in these activities. Ministries can become hierarchical instead of reciprocal, and programmatic rather than relational. While many church ministries are planned in this way Sabbath School classes, youth and Bible study groups , the very structure often obscures the need of those ministering or leading to also be discipled and ministered to in some other venue. Everyone in the church is to be growing as a disciple no matter the levels on which they also minister. Education happens in all aspects of life. Wherever it occurs, it must not focus on the cognitive to the exclusion of the relational—favoring information over the sharing of personal faith and story.

    Relational stories of personal faith, although often left untold, have a profound influence in the discipling of others, especially postmoderns. The nature of belonging—to a family, a congregation, a society—influences a person to be like the group. This is especially true in the postmodern context. Equipping, as defined in this model, focuses on Christians helping one another grow through the three individual processes of Connecting, Understanding, and Ministering. Because discipleship happens in the arena of daily life, and occurs within the loving relationships in the body of Christ, the processes and content of discipleship cannot be reduced to statements in a framework or grid.

    Thus, the Together Growing Fruitful Disciples Framework is designed to serve as a skeleton of basic characteristics of discipleship growingfruitfuldisciples. It provides a structure around which individuals, groups, and churches can organize experiences that edify the followers of Christ. Those who disciple others can use the framework to create learning events for many areas of discipling such as parenting, mentoring, teaching, or facilitating small groups.

    In the Together Growing Fruitful Disciples Framework , commitments for the growing Christian are articulated for each of the individual processes. C ommitments are further divided into key aspects of spiritual growth called indicators. These indicators are statements describing what a lifetime of following Jesus can look like.

    This Framework of processes, commitments, and indicators serves as a guide to outline the scope of discipleship and discipling. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, both can be somewhat evaluated using this Framework. Some commitments and indicators may have been strongly addressed in a particular context in which we do church, while others may have been overlooked. An evaluation based on this Framework can help in making informed decisions for improving discipleship and discipling in the body of Christ—at church, at school, and at home.

    Teaching potential postmodern disciples the whole truth of the gospel, with all its contours, requires this type of post-linear model and not just a list of fundamental beliefs. The gospel of Jesus Christ has been carried by His disciples in every era since He ascended to Heaven, leaving us the commission to make more disciples.

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    In the pre-Christian culture, the disciples carrying the gospel were fully engaged. They embodied the gospel as well as articulating it, often facing persecution for having counter-cultural beliefs and lifestyles. The focus of sharing the gospel was on its propositional content and logical methods by which to present it. However, in many respects, post-modern beliefs parallel underlying Christian beliefs. A discipleship framework, which helps us view our message in a holistic manner from post-dualistic, post-individualistic, post-rational, and post-noeticentric points of view just may help us grow up into the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus as well as help us understand just what the good news is that we have to share with the world—a gospel that we personally experience, and know will resonate with the longings, concerns, and aspirations of the secular and postmodern world.

    He sought to grasp power, to exalt self. A species of insanity led him to seek to supersede God. And the temptation which led Adam to sin, was the false statement of Satan that it was possible for him to attain to something more than he already enjoyed. Thus seeds of selfishness were sown in the human heart. God desires every one to understand the hateful character of selfishness, and to co-operate with Him in guarding His human family against its terrible, deceptive power.

    The first result of the entrance of sin into the world was the birth of principles of selfishness. The design of the gospel is. As a remedy for the terrible consequences into which selfishness led the human race, God gave His only begotten Son to die for them. And in this gift He gave Himself. How could He give more? The work of the church is to rekindle this love. Spur one another on toward love and good deeds—all the more as you see the day approaching Heb , Beagles, Kathleen, and Juvenal Balisasa.

    Journal of Adventist Education 74, no. Shields, and Jane Thayer. Together Growing Fruitful Disciples Framework. Hull, B. Nelson, C. Spiritual Formation: A Family Matter. Family Ministry 20, no. Ogden, G. White, Ellen G. The Ellen G. White Materials, p. There are more Adventist churches in more countries than all of the McDonalds, Subway and Pizza Hut restaurants combined.

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    Ministry leaders from around the world gather at Andrews University to focus on mission to younger generations on April , For Lakonn Church in Santiago, Chile, the word by which they receive their name defines the heart of their mission. Adventist church planting is, at best, an enigma to many ministry practitioners, and, at worst, a terrifying endeavor.

    How does one transition from the role of congregational shepherd to visionary church planter? How does a church plant reach secular people rather than simply attracting disgruntled Adventists? And what can a pastor do if he or she is unable to plant a new church, but desires to reach the unchurched through an existing local congregation? Why relating to the young adults in your church is imperative to reaching unchurched Millennials.

    How Arlington Seventh-day Adventist's Younger Generation Church is growing younger, growing "smaller," and growing deeper for the fame of Jesus. Why one Adventist church's young adult population is skyrocketing in the midst of a young adult church engagement crisis. In the face of these realities, how can your church reach unbelievers with the gospel? Read on for seven ways to start reaching out to secular and postmodern people in your sphere of influence today.

    We have been swept from the comfortable security of what we know in terms of church and witness, and have been thrown into uncharted, even seemingly hostile territory.