In Matthew 28:19, Jesus charged us to “go and make disciples.” But what we’re doing to make disciples in the Church isn’t working well. Many people attend worship services, classes, and small groups for years without becoming disciples. We have lots of attenders, but very few disciples.
In training his disciples, Jesus followed the HEAR — SEE — DO model. First, they HEARD about the Kingdom of God through teaching and instruction. Second, they SAW God at work by watching how Jesus lived his life. Third, Jesus directed them to DO what he had modeled for them. This process of learning through HEARING, SEEING, and DOING has proven very effective.
The main focus of today’s Church has been preaching and teaching ministries that allow people to HEAR Christian truth. Some churches have also provided opportunities to SEE through small groups and mentoring. But when people aren’t given opportunities to DO, we create a bottleneck. They don’t integrate Christian teachings into their daily lives, so they don’t become disciples. Our challenge is to break the bottleneck by offering more opportunities to DO.
To do this, we must introduce more opportunities for SEEING and DOING into our sermons, retreats, small group ministries, counseling, and mentoring programs.
Two proven ways of accomplishing that:
Research has shown that the right kind of stories—simple, unpretentious, positive—inspire people to change.
Stories do this because they do the two things necessary to overcome human inertia: 1) help people SEE clearly what they’re being asked to do and 2) help people SEE where they are headed and why it’s worthwhile.
So, if you build stories into all areas of your church’s ministry, the SEEING part will expand and larger numbers of people will be able to visualize what it looks like to be a disciple (and be more motivated to become one).
Research has also shown that practicing is essential to forming new habits.
There are two ways to help people do more practicing: 1) break Biblical lessons into smaller chunks and break the chunks into simple steps so people can easily DO them in normal life situations and 2) make practicing together a regular part of what goes on in sermons, small group meetings, retreats, and classes.
As people get more opportunities to practice, the DOING part of the process will expand and larger numbers of people will become mature disciples.
Essential Practices tools and resource kits make it easy for you to expand the SEEING and DOING parts of your church’s ministry. We suggest picking one key area of your ministry to focus on first. To do that, click on the links below to explore specific ways to enhance your church’s disciple-making process.
Three reasons even the most engaging sermons don’t lead to change
Why spiritual retreats fail to have long-lasting impact
You can try Essential Practices yourself by requesting a Test Drive. At this stage of your ministry, you might feel skeptical about whether any material or program can equip people to become true disciples, but we challenge you to give Essential Practices a try. The material was developed for one purpose - to make it easier for people to become doers of the Word.
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.
- Philippians 4:9