We recently upgraded our M.Div at Southeastern. A part of the new M.Div — which you can earn completely online now, by the way — involves the addition of a new course on Discipleship and Disciple-Making. I’m teaching it the first time this fall, and the class is quite large with just over 50 students. How do you teach a class that big on disciple-making, which generally involves much smaller numbers for personal focus on community? I do it by breaking the class into groups of eight for the first hour of class (we meet once a week for about three hours). We meet noon-3PM, so we bring lunches, get into groups, and share a meal and community as we go through the group time.
We are using the Saturate Field Guide by Jeff Vanderstelt and Ben Connelly. This eight-week study has the focus I want growing disciples to get:
God’s mission is that his people will be so saturated in Jesus that every person, in every place, would daily experience the good news of Jesus and be transformed by it in the course of their daily lives. Can you imagine every city, neighborhood, school, extracurricular activity, office, retail center, and industrial hub proclaiming the glory of Jesus in words and gracious deeds?1
They add another focus I think is critical in disciple-making:
It has always been God’s intention to choose normal, everyday people to demonstrate his amazing power and glory. The Bible is filled with story after story of such people. He’s not looking for the most impressive person because he already is that person.2
I’m convinced whatever discipleship process you use, if you don’t have from the very start as central to your DNA sharing Christ and winning people who can grow as disciples to win people who will grow as disciples, it will never become a part of your focus. You can’t add-on witnessing later. This field guide recognizes that and gives a great focus on sharing Christ while helping the learners study these eight topics over eight weeks:
JESUS (the best place to start)
FAMILY (local church)
RHYTHMS, Part 1 (Living out your faith daily)
RHYTHMS, Part 2
The study features six days of focus built around Scripture and key ideas related to the topic.
I divided students into groups of eight (one has seven, one has six). Each week a different student will lead the discussion, allowing every student to lead at least once over the eight weeks. I sit in on a different group each week as a participant. This helps me get to know the students better and learn from them. I’m going through the field guide myself, after all!
Yesterday’s discussion in our group was fantastic. I heard a seminary student who has already spent a couple years overseas admit the temptation to have the attitude of “I already know all this,” only to have the Spirit strip away some idols and pride. I heard another student share about leading a guy to Christ who was so unchurched he had no idea what people wore to church services. Seeing people get honest with their peers whom they just met was encouraging. I suspect by end of the eight weeks we will have students making some great new friends!
1Vanderstelt, Jeff; Ben Connelly. Saturate Field Guide: Principles & Practices For Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life (Kindle Locations 109-111). Saturate. Kindle Edition.
2Vanderstelt, Jeff; Ben Connelly. Saturate Field Guide: Principles & Practices For Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life (Kindle Locations 115-117). Saturate. Kindle Edition.