A Discipling Culture

By Shannon Youell

Hey friends, here is a resource that I am giving a good second look. It is quite pertinent to our ongoing conversation about discipleship.

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At first run through of Building a Discipleship Culture, I was excited about the way Mike Breen and the 3DM Team wrote about understanding discipleship and the challenges of making the cultural shift to re-engaging in disciple making. This makes up part one of the book. They use language and concepts that I’ve been developing and writing about in my own contexts.

The book’s back jacket contends that, “we don’t have a missional problem or a leadership problem in the Western church. We have a discipleship problem. If we make disciples like Jesus made them, we’ll never have a problem finding leaders or seeing new people coming to faith.”

Pretty strong words and promises! I believe they are bang on in regards to the discipleship matter.

Part two uses symbols, called LifeShapes, as our discipling language. When I went through this book the first time, I wasn’t that keen on the symbols and utilizing them. But then I ended up incorporating the first LifeShape into a discipling teaching I was doing with our church Leadership Team!

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It was so easy to explain the first shape—Circle—and helped us all understand a starting point to initiating deeper discipleship with one another and also as a place to start with our friends and neighbours to help them process an event—a “kairos moment” in their lives. This LifeShape teaches us to help us respond to the event rather than just stopping for a short “whoa” moment and then moving on.

The authors describe the kairos moment and discipleship engagement from it as follows:

“The Circle (the first LifeShape they utilize) shows us:

  • What it means to live a lifestyle of learning as a disciple of Christ
  • How to recognize important events as opportunities for growth; and
  • How to process these events.”

What I discovered when I gave this book a second chance is that the symbol did exactly what the authors claim it does! I first tried it just in a discussion group with Leadership.  I hadn’t planned on using it, but because symbols are memorable, when the opportunity arose during discussion when a person shared something God had revealed to them, the Circle came to mind, and I walked them through it in casual conversation. It was amazing where it brought that person and the others in the group observed!

The next week, I intentionally took the group through understanding what I had done and they were excited. It will take much repetition before it becomes natural of course, but the more often we do something, the more it just happens.

So the tool is easy to remember and to utilize, which excites me because we aren’t very equipped as members of churches, to actually disciple people—usually we leave that up to the pastors!

Watch a video here for an explanation of this first of eight discipleship tools.

I’ve often said that any of the people who I have been in relationship with that eventually came to faith discovered that I had been discipling them all along. So discipleship happens within the community of believers for believers and also beyond the believing community into the places and spaces where we all spend the majority of our time: amongst the world God so loves!

What disciple-making tools are you utilizing? It would be great if we could begin to share together what we are doing to help in the art of disciple-making and how we are equipping those we are discipling to be disciple makers themselves.

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