Making Disciples (Cheat 1)

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Jesus did not Practice, Model, Mandate, Train or Instruct His Disciples in One-to-One Discipleship…

Yes…I am going to get into trouble for this Post 😉

We’ve gone from Matthew through to John, then through the Book of Acts AND through the Letters…and cannot find an example of sustained One-to-One Discipleship…In fact, we don’t even see short term 1-to-1’s

Before reading the rest of this post…it would be good to note;

Everything we write regarding Newforms of Church, Disciple-Making and Developing Leaders is:

1. Really a return to the Old Forms (Ancient Paths) and Patterns we see in the Scriptures and Applied to 21st Century with a particular focus on Reaching GenXYZ in Europe and Beyond
2. Learn’t from the History of Movements...particularly those that sprang up from the British Isles (Celts, Lollards, Quakers, Methodists, Salvation Army and so on)
3. Chooses to Neglect or even Break the ‘Traditions of Men‘ when it nullifies (makes to no effect) the ‘Commands and Practices of Christ’
4. Aims at catalysing and propelling Multiplication Movements in Europe and Beyond

SO…with that in mind I’m going to say this BOLDLY…

One-To-One Discipleship is A BARRIER to Multiplication Movements and the Spread of the Gospel in Europe!

And so WE SHOULD FORCEFULLY BREAK THIS TRADITION!

Here’s how the story and game plays out again and again…A MissionTeam, Church or Simple Missional Community in Europe is looking to Find Persons of Peace to kick start a 4G (4 Generation) Multiplication Movement (DMM, DMT, CPM, CMM et al)

So they go out as ‘individuals‘ (sometimes in teams) to connect with ‘individuals‘ hoping to Find a Person of Peace (by which they are looking for, you guessed it; an ‘individual‘ to come to Christ- usually by ‘praying the prayer‘)

If they do happen to ‘win this individual to Christ’…they then precede to get their phone number, and then try to arrange to meet this person for One-to-One discipleship usually in a cafe or somewhere…hoping that somewhere down the line this person may bring or gather their oikos and make disciples…

I know…because I used to do this, teams I trained used to do this..those I meet STILL do this…and most see no reason not to continue doing this…

SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
1. Pioneers end up meeting with these individuals for a short time on perhaps a weekly basis…but the meetings eventually fizzle out (‘but what’s the problem? We’ve sown seed haven’t we?‘)
2. Even worse- Pioneers end up meeting with this individual weekly for 1.5 hours and it goes on like this for between 1 year to ad infinitum
3. The Pioneers don’t know whether this person is meeting them;
a. Because they are lonely
b. Because they just want to ‘be friends’
c. Because they ‘fancy them’
d. Because they have ‘loads of problems’ and want the Pioneers to ‘fix them’
e. Because they are looking for ‘money’ and ‘handouts’ from the Pioneers
f. Because they are simply deranged
4. The Pioneers don’t even know whether this ‘individual’ has an oikos…some still don’t know after having met this ‘individual’ for coffee for over a year!
5. Because of Problems 1 through 4…the so called ‘Person of Peace’…never gathers their oikos (perhaps because it was never their intention, because they were never asked to…or because they don’t even have one- which would make them NOT A PERSON OF PEACE)

COMMON OBJECTIONS
1. What are you saying…don’t meet with individuals?
No…we are saying ‘Don’t set up ongoing 1-to-1 discipleship with individuals’ particularly if your aim is to help catalyse movements.
2. What if they are in a hard-to-reach people group…we may not be able to reach their oikos…but we can disciple the individual Person of Peace to reach their oikos outside of the one-to-one we have with them?
Yes…that’s true…IF that is indeed what you are doing in your 1-to-1’s? But when Jesus sent out Pioneers into New Fields (contexts)…particularly cross-culturally…he sent them in 2’s…so if you are meeting with a potential Person of Peace from a ‘hard-to-reach community’– why not go in twos…then you will be a group of 3 (which is getting closer to what Jesus modelled when making disciples) and then they will have their own group too where they are making disciples who make disciples

BUT…are you actually intentionally coaching this potential Person of Peace to gather their communities outside of your meeting with them?
Or are you just, in fact, meeting with them one-on-one for coffee and bible studies?
The former, linked to the latter is the goal…as long as it’s not ‘bible studies’ in the modern individualistic sense- but transformational obedience (Truth+Dare)- but we’ll save that for another post

3. What’s wrong with One-to-One discipleship? We want to reach people ‘One Person at a Time‘ and they can get our ‘quality time, input and relationship’?
Everything is wrong with this! Why do they need your ‘personal, quality time and input‘ and ‘why do you want to reach people one person at a time?’
What a person and their community (oikos) need is to Hear and Obey Jesus
And they need to see how to do this modelled in Community (which is one of the many reasons why Jesus Builds His Church)
You don’t have ALL that person needs to grow as a disciple. Christ and His Community fleshed out locally and modelled in oikos…goes a long way to growing disciples…at lot further than your ‘quality time and input’ alone can provide without the gifts, resources and relationship of other disciples

There are over 7 Billion People on the Planet…Jesus modelled discipling in teams/communities (oikos) that would in turn multiply communities (oikos)…when His disciples preached, the result was ‘many disciples were made‘ and ‘they strengthened the churches…appointing leaders with prayer and fasting‘. Jesus will return when ‘this gospel of the Kingdom is preached throughout the whole world’
If we (all the ‘so called christians’ in the world) ALL discipled One Person at a Time…this task ‘might‘ be completed…but as we don’t ALL do that…and as Jesus didn’t teach or model it anyway…let’s scrap one-to-one discipleship altogether (if you’ve always done what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got- namely- no movements)

4. But what about Paul-Timothy? Didn’t they model spiritual Father-Son relationship that is akin to One-to-One discipleship?
If the question is…should we invest and pour our lives into spiritual sons and daughters…then…of course, our answer would be yes…

So WHO are YOU doing this with?

If your statement is- ‘See! One-to-one discipleship is scriptural, Paul did it’

Erm…not quite

Timothy joined Paul and Silas on their travels (so not one-to-one) and others joined them along the way (they were travelling as an oikos)
Timothy came to faith surrounded by oikos (he shared faith with his mother and grandmother)
Timothy was highly regarded by the disciples in his region (extended-families on a mission- oikos)
Paul passed onto Timothy the things he had learnt in the Presence of Many Witnesses…and Timothy was to go on to do the same with faithful men (plural) who were capable to do the same with others (plural)

5. But Jesus did one-to-one discipleship with People…like Nicodemas, Woman at the Well, Peter…
Did He?
Jesus shared spiritual conversation with the Woman at the Well for a very short period…before his disciples (oikos) returned and then the woman and the village invited the team back to their whole community (oikos) for a couple of days

Nicodemas came to Jesus at night…Jesus may have had a quick session with Nicodemas alone…but I doubt it…where would Jesus’ disciples have been at the time? And even if this quick nightcap was just Jesus and Nicodemas- does that amount to our modern practice of one-to-one discipleship?

Peter? It was Andrew that got Peter…and Jesus often met with Peter, James and John together (Jesus + 2/3) and they travelled around as at least 12 men (team/oikos) plus women (multiple or extended team/oikos) and others (possibly 72+).

Having a conversation directed at a person, witnessing/sharing the gospel/praying for or healing an individual, or even taking someone aside for a few minutes or hours does not equate to contemporary ideas of one-to-one discipleship…

6. But I’ve invested long-term one-to-one with an individual and now they lead an international mission organization…
Granted…this is perhaps the best argument for ‘keeping’ so-called ‘one-to-one’ discipleship methodology

Although…I would say, invest more time in those who are producing the most fruit…namely those who lead because they serve…not just an ‘individual’ you’ve ‘won to Christ’ that you are now automatically ‘meeting for one-to-one discipleship’ regardless of the fruit and the fact they are not gathering oikos or serving others

As friend and co-worker Neil Cole says
Invest in Provenness NOT Potential’

I have personally spent time with individuals…but not in the sense of one-to-one discipleship (meeting a random person through evangelism and then setting up extended one-to-one hourly weekly meetings. Although, I must confess, I did do this in the past… I met people-in-need regularly on their own…and it lead no-where (apart from into a dependency client/provider relationship).

And I’ve also met ‘leaders’ and tried to invest in them for whole days every week for 3-6 months and sometimes even up to 2 years…on a one-to-one basis in the past…but I choose not to repeat my 10 plus years (from 2000-2010) of mistakes…but would rather invest in Proveness rather than Potential seeking to pass onto trustworthy people those things I’ve now learn’t from all these years of PioneerMission with Persecution)

I have taken individuals who God has shown me to invest in, with me on the road, spent whole days with them, modelled how I train others, modelled how I connect with others, modelled how I am with my family, modelled how to pray in community, modelled how to handle persecution and suffering, modelled how to handle money and start businesses and so on…

This goes far beyond one-to-one discipleship. This is pouring out your whole life in a way that ‘submerges’ your disciples into your oikos or you into theirs or both.

And when on the road, Searching for New Persons of Peace (Luke 10 style) take ‘your disciple’ with you as you together find new PoP’s who welcome you into their household (oikos)

So your Father-Son, Mother-Daughter relationship happens in the presence of many witnesses and as you engage in oikos at ‘home’ and ‘abroad’

IF this One Gaming Tip Was Really Understood…

Disciple in Oikos not One-To-One’

It could Revolutionise How We Make and Multiply Disciples in Europe and Change the Game for Generations to Come

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter Ahlman May 1, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Sounds Good !
I just want the job done!

Blessings peter

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admin May 2, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Hey Peter!
Cool…go for it! Baptise whole households/groups like they did in the Book of Acts
When you baptise the whole oikos/social circle- ‘church is born’!

Churching people immediately leads to fruit that will last!

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Erik May 1, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Spot on, Peter. I’ve practiced one-to-one discipleship for years. I’ve seen fruit – but in my experience the times it was fruitful was when the discipleship was immediately connected with starting to reach their oikos and start a group. I’ve wasted many, many hours meeting one on one with people who, in retrospect, were probably just lonely or needy. Nothing wrong with spending time with someone like this in and of itself – it’s just not strategic disciple making to think that there were probably 100 other people who got neglected because of it. Being selective with who and how you disciple (i.e. in groups) is not being elitist – I’ve realized it’s being compassionate by trying to eventually reach the most people with the gospel. Excellent set of posts you’ve had the last couple weeks.

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admin May 2, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Hey Erik
Yes…it’s great spending time life-on-life with CityReachers, RegionShakers and NationChangers…
And if we can group these kind of people in ‘Circles’ to learn from each other as peers and create ‘communities of practice’ even better!

Look forward to meeting face-to-face in the first week of December 2014 for the UK Garden City Tour
You still coming over for that?

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Angela May 2, 2014 at 8:26 pm

So grateful I was lead to Jesus by one to one discipleship Pease don’t put inappropriate limitations on Jesus and His work

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admin May 3, 2014 at 7:36 am

Hi Angela

Notice I didn’t primarily talk about ‘being led to Christ’

But the best context for ongoing disciple making being in groups/families instead of long term one-to-one

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Angela May 2, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Sorry should have read led to Jesus

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Jeremy Snooks May 2, 2014 at 9:12 pm

Hi Peter,

You say that you expect to get into trouble foe your post. Well, I’m not here to cause trouble but I would like, if I may, to give a counter-argument from a different perspective.

From the point of view of the apostle (pioneer) your argument is logical and well put. However, “are all apostles?” Obviously not.

My main point that I feel I need to put across is that God is passionately concerned with individuals, as evidenced by Christ’s triple emphasis on making huge efforts to find something that is lost (sheep, coin, son).

When I read things like: “let’s scrap one-to-one discipleship altogether” and “we should forcefully break this tradition” I get very concerned.

Don’t get me wrong – I am all for breaking traditions and agree wholeheartedly that if we always do things in the same way we cannot expect different results. However, is one-to-one discipleship really an error-filled tradition that needs to be broken?

I consider myself to be a prophet/pastor (and others have confirmed this). I am passionate about people and would go to the ends of the earth and spend however long it took (night or day) to see someone’s life turned around. Of course, the aforementioned parables are talking about bringing a lost person back into the fold, but I’m pretty sure that an evangelist would go to similar lengths to get someone into the Kingdom in the first place.

Which brings me to my other main point – we need to work together. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are all needed to help extend the Kingdom. Perhaps it’s not a pioneer’s job to enter into one-to-one discipleship, but it absolutely IS the job of the pastor. In fact, I would be so bold as to say that we are in a season when pastors are desperately needed. We live in times of uncertainty, turmoil and widespread financial hardship. We need more real pastors to emerge. I’m not talking about the kind of pastor who just wants to gather his own little flock and ask them to pay his salary. I AM talking about the kind of pastor who wants to turn people towards God and challenge their relationships, actions ans thought patterns. Those are the kind of people who can do the one-to-one discipling!

Best wishes,

Jeremy

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admin May 3, 2014 at 7:34 am

Hi Jeremy,

Thanks for your considered and lengthy response

Notice that I write primarily in the context of sparking movements (see caveat in the post on this)

But also…I think the best context for healing and restoration pastoral and prophetic is in the context of oikos (an extended spiritual family on a mission)

So the main points I make are to do with whether Jesus mandated or modelled long-term one-to-one discipleship

We have had many years of experience trying to help people one-to-one…

But they could not get all they needed and be taught to obey all Christ Commanded through this limited approach

In terms of
‘Are we all apostles’

No…
In the same way that we are not all pastors

However…each of these APEST gifts (Ephesians 4:11) are given to ‘equip the saints’

So apostles equip the saints to do this sort of thing
Prophets equip the saints to hear the voice of God and so on
Evangelists equip the saints to witness
Shepherds equip the saints to love one another in oikos
Teachers train the saints to obey the word

And at a time when we are in the least reached continent…we’re in need of new apostolic movements (Missional) and so we need to create an apostolic environment for the other gifts to function in

The foundation is built on the apostles and prophets

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Jim August 22, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Hi Peter and all,
With teammate Dave from your fair land my wife and I work in SE Asia seeking to spark a DMM/CPM among a Mul*m people group. We are now on home assignment for 3 more months in the U.S., and among other things are seeking to spread the word about this new/old approach that seems relevant not only to our mission field in Asia but also here in the U.S. Currently our home church (Bethlehem Baptist, Minneapolis, MN) is raising questions about the DMM approach, I think primarily from concerns that biblical doctrine and qualified leadership may not be passed on adequately in this informal, “rapid replication” model. Do you have any suggestions to address these concerns? Any State-side resources you may suggest.
BTW, our team has been most influenced by the DMM model of David Watson (now Cityteam), along with David Garrison and Jerry Trousdale.
As I look over your posts, I thank God for your zeal to follow and serve Jesus even when that means parting with culture (e.g., individualism, materialism) and tradition (e.g., professional clergy and program based design church)! Let’s obey in faith, and see His kingdom advance forcibly!
Jim

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admin February 13, 2015 at 11:37 am

Hi Jim. Sorry it’s taken a while to get back to you. I took a break from blogging. Great to hear you are moving down the DMM path in USA. How far have you got in your journey? There are quite a few people moving in this way in the USA – people like Neil Cole and his networks, Curtis Seargeant, Jeff Sundell and his networks…although, to see lasting fruit, I would suggest DMM’s need to also become CMM (church multiplication movements)

In terms of guarding against heresy – the best way, as Neil Cole would say, is better trained disciples. A DMM is all about that. Making Disciples who Make Disciples not just attenders who take any food given to them predigested from the pulpit.

However, those of us, like Jeff Sundell, advocate midlevels (what we call level 2’s- usually delivered through the vehicle we call BaseCamps), where the leaders are brought together (those experiencing 3-4 generation disciple and church multiplication streams/networks) for more indepth inductive bible discovery.

In the UK, we also practice ‘Pilgrims’, same-sex groups of 2/3’s (a bit like Neil Cole’s LTG’s but with some contextual differences). It’s another disciple multiplication system/process that helps disciples read large quantities of Bible daily, confess sins, hear Jesus and do what he says. This also helps to train through peer groups, better trained disciples.

For the past 5 years, we have been travelling and training across the 12 Regions of Britain and Ireland…many (if not most) of the groups we have trained are established churches (from Anglican, to Baptist, to New Charismatic). These are churches whose leaders have invited us to facilitate a Newforms Level 1 training with them (see http://www.newformsresources.com). These are usually leaders/churches with a vision to start a multiplying movement of missional communities/simple/organic churches or newforms of church out from their building that is now seen primarily as a training base for regional movementum

Would love to hear how you are getting on- connect through email or facebook maybe?

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