Want Healthy Discipleship? Check Your Pulse

I was introduced to a pastor of another church here in town a couple of weeks ago and the conversation turned to what do I do. I said I am serving in the areas of church health and leadership development and he asked, “what makes a church healthy?”

It’s a great question and in a moment of inspiration I said, “making disciples.”

Sometimes it may seem as though this is said over and over again, but given the power of repetition,this can never be said too often. The mission of the church is to make disciples. Period! Discipleship is the core, the engine, the purpose, the point of it all. Go and make disciples! Everything else in the life of the body is wrapped up in the mission of doing this well.

The next great question will serve as a bit of a health check up, “Is our church making disciples?” When you go to see the doctor, they check your vitals. They know the expected benchmark measurements to determine if your body temp, or blood pressure, or other vital signs are in the proper range. As a church body, we need to recognize our vital signs as well.

Lifeway research came up with 8 signposts or indicators for growing disciples. These are incorporated into the Disciples Path study series (which we included a sample of in the toolkit). You can use these vital signs or make your own version for your church, but I do want to encourage one in particular.

Regular Bible reading!

Think of it like your discipleship pulse. Research showed that those who regularly engaged in Bible study also grew in all the other vitals as well. This the key to being a growing disciple and making growing disciples. So, check your pulse and the pulse of those you are discipling.

Dakota Discipleship Podcast Episode 8 – Interview with Jeffrey Mueller Part 2

This is part 2 of a conversation with Jeffrey Mueller from Restore Church in Yankton, SD. We talk about some stories of discipleship in their church and community and also about the importance of raising up leaders in our churches. Tune in for the next 16 minutes or so and interact with the content by leaving a comment or emailing us. We are looking to further the conversation about making disciples in the Dakotas and beyond. Be blessed and have a great day.

Download Episode

Music bed credits: “Groundwork” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License


3 Commitments to Making Disciples

Commit to your plan! We have talked about the need for a discipleship plan. We have resources available for helping to make a plan of your own which is biblical and intentional. Your discipleship plan doesn’t need to look exactly like mine does. It needs to fit in your church and community and context, and it should be solidly biblical and focused on making disciples who look, live, and love like Jesus.

Commit it to your schedule! Set a time for your discipleship group to meet on a regular basis and stick to it. Life will happen and things will not always work according to plan, but make sure you stay the course of meeting regularly together as a small group.

Commit to a time frame! Part of your plan should be the next phase, when the ones you are discipling today, become the ones making more disciples tomorrow. Have an idea of when that tomorrow is and aim for it. You may need to make adjustments of course and some may be ready sooner and some later. Having a time frame in mind helps keep the process on track. Jesus certainly knew he had a limited amount of time to work with the disciples He had chosen. We do as well.

This is the heart of our commission and this is the basis of our commitment. Go and make disciples!

Dakota Discipleship Podcast Episode 7 – Interview with Jeffrey Mueller Part 1

Had a great conversation with Jeffrey Mueller from Restore Church in Yankton, SD about discipleship and intentionality. They have created a template for discipleship in part using the Discipleship toolkit from the DBC and have over 50% of their church participating in a discipleship group. This is part one of our conversation about the 4 Cs model they have developed and about making disciples like Jesus did. Tune in for the next 17 minutes or download the episode and take it with you to listen later. Be blessed and have a great day.

Download Episode

Music bed credits: “Groundwork” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License


Some News at Dakota Disciple

Most of you who read here are aware of the Discipleship Toolkit produced by the Dakota Baptist Convention. We have distributed most of these to our churches already. If you are a Dakota Baptist church and haven’t received yours already, please contact me to get one.

I also wanted to update everyone one when to expect posts here at the site. During our spring training times, through mid May, I will be doing a blog post and a podcast on alternating Fridays. This Friday will be a podcast featuring part one of an interview with Jeffrey Mueller of Restore Church in Yankton, SD. We talk about the plan they have developed using 4 Cs to create intentional discipleship in small groups (Connect, Coach, Care and Celebrate). We talk about being intentional and passing on discipleship to others.

Be sure and subscribe to get each post or episode delivered to you by email as it comes out. If you have ideas for things you would like to hear in future podcasts, let me know. Thanks for reading and listening and be blessed.

Learn by Doing

I have a go to response over the years when anyone gives a compliment about my preaching. Essentially it is, go and thank the churches that had to listen to me learning to preach when I was younger. They are the ones who had to endure a young preacher who wasn’t sure when to stop talking or how to end a sermon. One who had not yet heard the rule of beginning with the ending in mind for instance.

We know the phrase, practice makes perfect. It is a tried and true axiom and applies to discipleship. The more we do the things that discipleship calls us to; the better we will get at doing them. No one starts out understanding their Bible flawlessly. I am pretty sure none of us end our days understanding it flawlessly either, but we definitely improve little by little as we do it.

The doing part of discipleship can sometimes be scary for the person who is leading a new disciple. There is concern for all of the ways something could go wrong. Let me free you up a bit of concern. Something is sure to go wrong at some point. Learning well often involves failure. I have never forgotten the advice to “begin with the end in mind,” thanks in large part to the ending of my very first sermon. I made all of the points on my outline and didn’t know what else to say, so I looked at the pastor who had allowed me to preach that Sunday night and said, “that’s all I have.” I didn’t know what to do in that moment, but I made sure I was better prepared the next time because of it.

We should always look for opportunities to let those we disciple have a safe place to fail and learn from those failures. We should look for ways to give those we disciple a place to succeed. Above all, we should look for ways to give them a place to learn as they do.

The Power of Repetition

There is a rabbinic saying about discipleship.

One who repeats his lesson a hundred times is not like him who repeats it a hundred and one times.

Chaggigah 9b

We seldom speak about the power of repetition in discipleship in my experience. I have been reminded of the importance of this simple truth several times recently. A few days ago, I was driving to preach at a church and had my daughter riding along with me. I was scanning the radio and a song from the 90s was playing. I recognized the tune and so I stopped in order to sing along and make my daughter groan a bit. I quickly realized I couldn’t remember very many of the words despite knowing that I had heard that song a bunch years ago. I was sure I knew some of the lyrics but nothing sounded right.

Until the last verse played. Suddenly, I knew every single word. Then they repeated the verse again.

And again.

And again one last time for good measure.

I realized why I knew all the words to one verse of the song and couldn’t remember any of the others. I had heard that one set of words a whole lot more than the rest.

This is absolutely true in our studies as disciples. The things that we repeat will be the things that we remember and live out in our everyday lives. Let’s remember this lesson and repeat it often. Make repetition a part of your plan for discipleship and your rhythm of personal discipleship.