I originally wrote this for the Dare 2 Share Relational & Relentless blog, and then it was reposted by Real Life Ministries. So, I figured I might as well post it myself on my own site!


As I continue to strive toward making evangelism more central to our Student Ministry strategy at GFC the heart of what I ultimately want to accomplish is creating a culture of disciples who make disciples who make disciples. You can imagine my excitement when I came across a model and resources from a ministry that has been birthed out of a church that is doing just that!

I was introduced to Real Life Ministries when I attended one of their “Disciple-Shift” conferences this past spring. What unfolded at the conference as well as through the books authored by their Pastor, Jim Putnam, was my introduction into a model of making disciples who make disciples that best fits a small group ministry and thus is very transferrable to my Student Ministry setting. While the model is much bigger than the glimpse I will provide through this blog, I will highlight 3 of my biggest takeaways that are priorities on my list of implementation for this next ministry year.

Real Life Discipleship Wheel1. One of the clearest disciple growth and development plans I have ever seen.

Real Life frames the spiritual growth of a disciple within a circle that reflects the natural development of a person. It starts with a section labeled “Spiritually dead” which emphasizes the need for people to first put their faith and trust in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Once they have been born again, the four stages of development read as follows: infant, child, young adult, and parent. Using these stages of development, Real Life Discipleship puts spiritual terms and indicators on these stages so you can see how disciples should develop in their spiritual journey. This practical framework is an amazing tool and serves as a great exercise to chart out where each of your students is at.

2. The development of each disciple does not fall solely to the leader of the ministry, or small group.

As we implement this model into our Student Ministry, specifically our small groups, the job of our small group leaders will be 2-fold when it comes to this area. First, they will be the ones to know exactly where their students land in the spiritual development process. Secondly, they will have a good idea what that students next step in spiritual maturity will be. It will not be up to them to get that student to make that next step. This is where the fun and messiness of discipleship kicks in. Another student in their small group, or in our Student Ministry as a whole, is probably best suited to help them take that next step. This way students will grow as they help others grow. It moves discipleship from a curriculum based approach to a life on life approach and by including our students in the development of other students they are learning part of how to make disciples by hands-on involved in the process.

3. Bible-storying becomes the most effective model in creating space in our small groups for this type of discipleship to happen.

Bible-storying is a way of doing Bible study that includes 3 basic steps.

  1. Someone in the group tells the story of scripture from memory (but not memorized like a memory verse) in a very conversational way.
  2. The group then opens their Bibles and walks through the story verse-by-verse to review and rebuild the story.
  3. The group then interacts by asking some very simple but probing questions about the story:
  • “What does this story reveal to us about God?”
  • “What does this story reveal to us about man?”
  • “Who or what do I personally identify with from the story?”
  • “Based on what I’ve learned, what will I do to grow in my faith?”

To give you a better idea of what this looks like you can check out a sample of a Bible-storying curriculum for teenagers that I reviewed by CLICKING HERE.

I highly encourage you to become more familiar with Real Life Discipleship! If you can attend one of their DiscipleShift conferences then you should do so. You should definitely pick up the two books that deal with introducing and implementing this strategy, both authored by Jim Putnam:

Real Life Discipleship, less than $15 on Amazon.

Disciple Shift, also less than $15 on Amazon.

Do you have an effective way that you are making disciples who make disciples? What resources are you using to accomplish this goal in your ministry? If you are already familiar with Real Life Discipleship, what are your thoughts on it?

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