Many discipling-making efforts today are focused on information transfer and they are often delivered through church programs. We are grateful for the way these efforts help people, but they often carry with them certain limitations.
When we look at the life of Jesus, we see that his disciple-making rhythms were much more extensive and they involved all of life. Our goal as disciples is to emulate his approach, which means eating together, serving together, practicing Sabbath together, and learning together. We share projects, priorities, and plans—and enjoy them together, too!
We have arguments and give forgiveness. We share conversations that cover multiple topics, and the gospel flows into them from God rather than us forcing our preferences into them.
We’ve identified the 7 disciple-making rhythms of a “with-Jesus” life in a diagram:
Disciple-making relationships endure over the course of these rhythms, moving along a disciple-making spectrum as diverse as the following descriptions:
- Not-yet believing and following
- Newly believing
- “Inviting-along” others into the family of believers (as Jason C. Dukes describes in his free eBook Inviting Along)
- Maturing while multiplying
- Encouraging and coaching other disciple makers
- Pairing up with several other believers and not-yet-believers to form a new group
- Joining together with other family-like groups to form a new community of faith
- Being sent into the nations of the world to live this inviting-along, disciple-making way
Like Jesus focused on The Twelve, we focus on a few. This method frees people to focus on fewer relationships and, over time, to make more disciples of Jesus who make disciples with Jesus than if we had bitten off more than we could chew—because that way, more and more people engage in real disciple-making relationships living out the disciple-making rhythms of Jesus.
Have you ever read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John with this simple question in mind: How did Jesus make disciples who make disciples? What did he actually do in his everyday relationships with the twelve men he invited along? We would suggest that Jesus modeled seven recurring, relational rhythms in his disciple-making efforts with the twelve men he invited along. Jesus made disciples who make disciples:
- Grounded in and flowing from FASTING and PRAYING in relationship with his heavenly Father.
- Actively loving people and INVITING ALONG those who WELCOMED him into their lives to love others together.
- SERVING with those he invited along.
- EATING and debriefing with those he invited along.
- RESTING/SABBATHING and retreating and resting with those he invited along.
- LEARNING and living the gospel of his kingdom with those he invited along in all of these relational rhythms.
- MATURING them WHILE MULTIPLYING with Jesus to one day send them off to make disciple-makers too.
These disciple-making rhythms are helpful for us today because we can emulate them in group settings. For example, I (Bobby) lead a small group of young families. We reviewed these elements as the rhythms for our small group when we started and formed our group covenant. Here is a summary of what we agreed to follow:
- Prayer and Fasting– we started our Home Group ministry by prayer and fasting and we seek to regularly pray and fast.
- Inviting Along– we invited people to join our group, including a few people who live alternative lifestyles and do not yet believe in Jesus. They welcomed us into their lives.
- Sabbathing/Resting– once a month we will just “chill together,” and not do anything special.
- Learning– twice a month we will study God’s Word together, using specific material to ground people in the foundational teachings of the Word of God.
- Eating– once a month we will eat together and share our lives with one another.
- Serving– once a month we will serve others in need as a group.
- Multiply while Maturing– we will courageously multiply this group and to help us do that, we will plan to multiply some members out of our group each year, so that they can start new groups.
I have found these rhythms to be excellent for our group. We have seen two baptisms and those in our group who are living an alternative lifestyle are loved by everyone in the group. They are slowly growing in the environment of love as they get to process the teachings of Jesus.
These rhythms help us to provide balanced disciple-making as we look to Jesus as our model.
For King Jesus,
Bobby Harrington with Jason Dukes
Sign up for the 2019 National Disciple Making Forum in Nashville, November 7-8 by clicking here.
“Going Public with Your Faith”
by Bill Hull and Bobby Harrington
“Weekly Update: Conviction and Civility”
by Bobby Harrington
“Make Discipleship New”
by Regi Campbell
New Podcast Episodes
S05 Episode 64: The Challenges of Changing Your Ministry Culture (Dann Spader, Doug Holliday, Calvin Russell, and Joel Zaborowski)
S05 Episode 63: How to Begin a Student Ministry Team (Joel Zaborowski)
S05 Episode 62: How to Disciple the Whole Person (Calvin Russell)
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