Updated: Aug 28
The Assignment Given to the Early Church
The Christian faith sprang to life approximately 2000 years ago after a small band of disciples of Jesus Christ witnessed His passion and sacrificial death on Calvary's cross to pay the penalty for the sins of as many as believed in Him. When, in amazement, they experienced the miracle of His resurrection from the dead, they recorded and put into practice His final commission: their assignment. "Go and make disciples of all nations". (Matthew 28:19-20 Common English Bible) To that cause - the discipling of the nations in the knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus, the Resurrected Savior and Lord - those valiant believers remained faithful preserving and promoting the message of Christ's everlasting kingdom even unto death.
They worshiped together regularly at the Temple each day, met in small groups in homes for Communion, and shared their meals with great joy and thankfulness, praising God. The whole city was favorable to them, and each day God added to them all who were being saved.
Acts 2: 46-47 The Living Bible
Thus, began the growth and challenges of the early church as outlined in the book of Revelation. The seven churches addressed in chapters 2 and 3 were established churches at the time of the writing of "the Revelation of Jesus Christ" by the Apostle John "who bare record of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, and all the things he saw" (Revelation 1:2).
The churches of Revelation are also a prophetic listing of Christian Church history as it unfolded over the next 2000 years. Today, each local church, denomination, and individual faces the same tests of character addressed by John's prophetic writings. His revelation addressed a falling away from the true gospel message: obedience to the teachings of Christ.
A Shift in Spiritual Leadership in the Church
The Christian Church first formed in Jerusalem and grew outward through the evangelism of the Apostles. It is estimated that by the end of the first century AD, there were one hundred functioning congregations. Those addressed by John in the Book of Revelation were the seven churches in what we now call Asia Minor.
A description of the early Church’s challenges and achievements - displeasing and pleasing to God respectively - were addressed to the leadership and believers of actual churches while John was exiled on the Isle of Patmos. John’s letters were ordered in such a manner as to prophetically foretell the historical development of the Church over the next 19 centuries.
1. Ephesus - apostolic church
2. Smyrna - persecuted church
3. Pergamum –the marriage of the church and state
4. Thyatira – the church corrupted by pagan idol worship
5. Sardis – denominational church
6. Philadelphia – missionary church
7. Laodicea – apostate church
A thorough study of the seven churches will not be covered in this article. However, we want to point to a paradigm shift – a very dire and radical event - that occurred in the 4th century disrupting the intention of Jesus Christ and the Apostle's teachings to their disciples. That detour from divine instruction occurred when the illegitimate marriage of the church and state (Pergamum) was initiated by Constantine as he decreed Christianity the religion of the Roman empire. Under Roman influence, the Spirit-led church was replaced by carnally minded men who organized and controlled the practice of the Christian faith. As is the case with most controlling men, they organized the Holy Spirit out of the Church.
An edict was issued in 380 AD forbidding Christians from gathering from house to house: the center of discipleship and Koinonia fellowship of the early Church. What motivated this edict forbidding the daily house-to-house function of the Church? The obvious answer to that question is the control of the laity by a power-hungry hierarchy.
The actions of a centralized, state-influenced Church over the next 1600 years produced astronomical abuse. While the testimonies of faithful disciples to Christ’s teachings were shared in secret gatherings and were responsible for adding followers to the faith daily, millions lost their lives at the hands of the wicked Church and political leadership. History recounts that in a single day, corrupt overseers of the Church were responsible for murdering more followers of Jesus Christ than all the combined Roman emperors. The power struggle between man's kingdom and God's kingdom raged on.
Returning to the Past for Today’s Answers
The spiritual leaders of today are pondering in dismay the decades-long decline of the modern church and its diminishing influence on the western world. Conferences, books, and prayer rallies abound searching for answers. As church leaders and members, we must pause from “doing church” and honestly address our part in our ineffectiveness. "Why is the church in decline?" "What must we do to reverse this disastrous trend?" To address these questions, we'd like to share an important event in our lives.
In 1999, we visited Tuscany, Italy where 40 plus members of my family live. We were invited to a Roman Catholic conference. Around 75 people of influence and affluence were in attendance: some very wealthy donors, others were Bishops and Cardinals, as well as other high officials from the Vatican. Indeed, our host, Gianni, was numbered among them as he oversaw the Internet and travel for the Vatican.
Everything spoken at the conference was in Italian leaving us at a disadvantage to understand the gravity of the subject being addressed. Asking Gianni what the conference speakers were sharing, he said the topic was, "the decline in church growth, and specifically the lack of church attendance among the youth". I mentioned it was a similar problem we were dealing with in the Protestant church. Gianni immediately stood up and announced: "Domenico wants to speak." I said, "I do?" Suddenly, I found myself addressing this distinguished gathering with Gianni interpreting as I spoke (as follows).
When we in the Protestant church need guidance, we often look back to the founders of denominations or movements: reformers like Martin Luther, Westley, and so on for direction. And yet, it is in the Apostolic church of the 1st and 2nd centuries where we can discover the secrets for experiencing remarkable, daily church growth. There we find how the faithful disciples of Jesus Christ preserved the teachings and practices of our Christian faith. Should we not look to them for our answers? Like them, directed by our Lord Jesus, we must go back to the Upper Room for answers. We must first be empowered by the Holy Spirit to deliver the message of the gospel to all nations with power and demonstration. Unless we return to the Upper Room and wait until we receive power to be His witnesses - the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to carry on the work of the ministry – then, ten years from today, we will just be very old men still asking ourselves the very same questions.
As I took my seat, the room erupted with 'Bravo, bravo! ', as they stood, and loudly applauded my remarks. I sat in awe of how the Holy Spirit inspired my message to connect powerfully to a people of another language! It was truly a post-Upper Room moment in our lives.
A Return to our Apostolic Roots
Through life experience, theological research, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are convinced that the Apostolic model holds the answer to the health and growth of Christianity today. The truth is that lasting discipleship and personal transformation are best accomplished in small groups meeting from house to house like the model of the early church; not while looking at the back of heads from a pew. This is not to say churches are not essential and central to our Christian experience. Early Jewish believers went to the temple daily. But, as societal pressures and persecution increased, and Gentiles (former pagans) were added to the number of followers, the actual depth of understanding of the tenets and practices of the Christian faith necessitated intimate encounters with other mature believers: house to house.
Only when disciples are made will the church maintain increased numbers. And making disciples is a process. Repeating a sinner's prayer and even water baptism does not make a disciple. Although one may be free from sin and death and has positionally become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, and their name is recorded in the Lamb's Book of Life, they still have the same mind, the same friends, the same habits, and same negative societal influences surrounding them as before their encounter with Jesus. They are as vulnerable as newborn babes moments after delivery who desperately need the oversight and care of loving parents to survive.
The great Bible teacher, the late Derek Prince, defined a disciple as "a learner under discipline". Biblical passages, and the writings of the early Church fathers, dictate a pattern for successfully making disciples which remains relevant today. Christ's disciples passed on the doctrines and practices of the faith as elder disciples in the faith guided new converts on the path of transformation from their former dark lifestyles into the light of Christ during daily interactions: house to house.
The ancient Church’s model provides a guide for laying the foundations on which new converts can best learn the fundamentals of the faith that are essential for living victorious lives. This model further provides a place of bringing to remembrance all Christ taught confirming an authentic Biblical worldview in followers of Christ. In small loving groups, operating in spiritual accountability with one another and their spiritual overseers, disciples mature and become beacons of the Koinonia lifestyle and are equipped to be "fishers of men".
The Biblical Precedent for Discipleship: Old Testament
Biblical discipleship began in the earliest days of Judaism when Moses handed down the Law and instructed the heads of households to teach their sons from the Torah daily in their homes.
“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as reminders on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, speaking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on your doorposts of your houses and on your gates…”
Deuteronomy 11:18-20 Berean Study Bible
The prophets addressed discipleship as well. The prophet Isaiah seems to indicate that he had a circle of followers he discipled.
“Tie up the scroll as legal evidence, seal the official record
of God's instructions and give it to my followers.”
Isaiah 8:16 New English Translation
Later in the book, Isaiah reveals himself as a disciple of God who has been given the gift and authority to disciple others.
“The Sovereign LORD has given me the capacity so that I know how to help the weary. He wakes me up early every morning; he makes me alert so I can listen attentively as disciples do.”
Isaiah 50:4 New English Translation
According to Greg Herrick, Ph.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary, Isaiah revealed in the passage above the concept that a disciple is one with "a willing, listening, and obedient heart". Indeed, a disciple is not a hearer only; but it is one who imitates and adheres to the teachings and life example of their mentor and then shares those values and beliefs with others.
Samuel's school of the prophets (1 Samuel 19:18-24 and 2 Kings 4:38-44) further portrays the role of the teacher-disciple relationship which proclaimed and promoted the advance of God's influence among His young followers for their mental and spiritual well-being. The school prepared them to become men who were spiritually equipped to lead the nation.
The Biblical Precedent for Discipleship: New Testament
The precedent of New Testament era discipleship was first introduced before Jesus called his twelve disciples to follow him. It is clearly seen in the ministry of John the Baptist whose followers lived with him and followed him as he preached. On the day that John pointed to Jesus saying "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world". (John 1:29-34 English Standard Version), John's disciple Andrew - brother of Simon Peter - left John to follow Jesus. After hearing John's declaration that Jesus was the prophet's promised Messiah, Andrew became Jesus' disciple and brought his brother to join him and be taught at the Master's feet.
As a young boy, the Apostle Paul left his home in Tarsus to study the Law under the great Rabbi in Jerusalem, Gamaliel. Brought up in Jerusalem, Paul's pedigree as "the Hebrew of Hebrews" (Philippians 3:5) came from having been the disciple of Gamaliel. Gamaliel was the highly respected headmaster of either the Hillel or his own school of the Law. As his disciple, Paul was mentored by a master of the Mosaic law, who was a Pharisee, and a member of the Sanhedrin: The Supreme Court of ancient Israel. As such, Paul was proficient in the heritage languages of Judaism: Hebrew and Aramaic as well as Koine Greek.
Indirectly, Gamaliel's influence had a profound effect on the Church. It was his disciple's knowledge and discipline that resulted in Paul writing much of the New Testament. And, it was the zeal, Gamaliel inspired in Paul that prepared him to be the great leader and eloquent evangelist to the Gentiles. (Romans: 11:14, Romans 15:16, Ephesians 3:8 Common English Version)
No imperative to disciple others in the teachings of Christ can compare or resound as clearly as the words Jesus repeated to Peter after each of Peter's three declarations of love for his Lord and Savior. Jesus spoke these words of ASSIGNMENT: "feed my lambs" … "take care of my sheep" … "feed my little sheep".
(Excerpts from John 21:15-17. The Living Bible)
We must face the reality of the power of cultural influencers. At no time in history has the pulpit had less influence than today. Let's assume a new believer regularly attends a weekly worship service. How - in less than two hours a week - are believers prepared to overcome the onslaught of endless daily media input and life encounters in our secularized society that vies for their attention 24/7?
Only in small relational groups where bonds of trust are formed can Christian faith and practice be demonstrated and exercised fully. In such a setting, believers are empowered to face life's hard issues and moral decisions and learn how to reach out to others to share the gospel message effectively. It is in such a setting of accountability that God's Word - His standard - can be explored in group discussion, through topical studies, and be implemented into our lifestyle by reason of use in interpersonal relationships.
“And day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with a united purpose, and in their homes, they broke bread [including the Lord's Supper]. They partook of their food with gladness and simplicity and generous hearts, constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with all the people; and the Lord kept adding [to their number] daily those who were being saved [from spiritual death].”
Acts 2: 46-47 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition
A Biblical Worldview
In light of the present decline in church attendance, and more alarming, the lack of Biblical knowledge or moral practices of many who claim Christian belief, the state of the communion begs the question: "How can church leaders turn the tide"? Over recent decades, churches adhering to a strong Biblical worldview have diminished in societal acceptance and influence while those catering to the pressure to embrace many ways to God, and bow at the altar of an inclusive, universalist message flourish. Can we not sense that the worst persecution of our day could very well come from today's apostate church? Are we not called to safeguard the little ones in the faith against the deception at hand?
“At that time many will be offended and repelled [by their association with Me] and will fall away [from the One whom they should trust] and will betray one another [handing over believers to their persecutors] and will hate one another. Many false prophets will appear and mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, the love of most people will grow cold. But the one who endures and bears up [under suffering] to the end will be saved.”
Matthew 24; 10-13 Amplified Bible
Regardless of external pressures, the solution to being effective as the Church in 2022 is to hold fast to the fundamental foundation of our faith: the inerrancy of the Bible. Disciplining believers to live within a Biblical worldview is essential! Consider these few alarming statistics gathered by George Barna of The Barna Group: a market research firm that specializes in studying the religious beliefs and behaviors of Americans.
• Of the 67% of Americans surveyed who claim to be Christian only
6% have a Biblical worldview (believe in and practice the doctrines
of the Bible in their daily life).
• Only 37% of pastors have a Biblical worldview (present the Bible
as the all-sufficient rule of faith and practice in their lifestyle
choices and from their pulpits).
• The majority of Americans surveyed defined Christianity as
merely being "a good person".
George Barna will be releasing a new book in the last quarter of 2022 with the most current statistics.
A paradigm shift is desperately needed … a wake-up call… to change direction in haste from a "user-friendly, emergent church" into a Word-based, God-fearing, God-believing, God-empowered, and God-glorifying body of kingdom builders. What steps must we take to realize such a change?
Follow the Lord’s Teaching through the 12 Apostles to the Nations
What actions must be taken to engage and empower the anemic church of 2022 and prepare them to face the increasing persecution, deception, and apostasy of this age? We believe the answer stares us in the face as we have examined the church's earliest document of instruction. Written in the first century - well before the Bible was canonized - that instructive document is the Didache: also known as the Lord's Teaching through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations.
Rediscovered fully intact in 1873, the Didache is the oldest catechism or teaching explaining the faith and practice of all true believers in their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In this document, the contemporaries and disciples of the Apostles recorded and modeled the details of the intense discipleship and practices of the Apostolic Church. Through the purity of its message, the Church learned to mirror all Jesus said and did among them.
At the core of this oldest form of catechesis is the pure gospel of Jesus Christ and the practices He instituted such as Holy Communion and The Lord’s Prayer (which might more accurately be named “The Disciple’s Prayer”). The Didache was used by elders to disciple the younger believers: daily from house to house. It was the strength of their commitment to entrust unto faithful men that which was handed down to them that has continued to establish and maintain the Church throughout the ages.
What a great debt of gratitude we owe those who under peril of persecution and death copied and preserved the Old Testament Scriptures and Christ’s teachings through the Apostles. The Divine Library of 66 books - that under one cover we call the Holy Bible - came together over many hundreds of years.
The books of the Prophets were agreed upon and canonized only 200 years before Christ. By the end of the first Christian century, the Council of Jamnia closed the canon of the Hebrew books (Old Testament) as authoritative. It was not until 367 A.D. in his Easter letter that Archbishop Athanasius of Alexandrea first listed the 27 books of the New Testament as authoritative and meeting the criteria of inspired Scripture.
The translation of the Old and New Testament into Latin by Jerome occurred in 382 A.D. and was confirmed as the final and conclusive canonical listing of the books to be included for the church into one great volume. Not until 1382 did John Wycliffe complete the first translation into English. Nearly a century later, in 1456, a world-shaping event took place. The invention of a printing press with moveable type made possible the printing of a folio edition of the first Gutenberg Bible.
What sustained and propagated the faith of the followers of Christ before they had churches to attend? What kept them in the faith before the inspired words written by Paul and others were copied and made available to the Church? The Didache! Its written and orally transmitted instructions shared by elders of the faith with their disciples resulted in an army of mature believers who continued to duplicate their efforts through the ages.
The first written Christian instruction to the nations, the Didache, is the oldest written catechism and the original Church Order. Divided into three sections, it covers Christian ethics, rituals, and Church organization. The Didache insured that Jesus' teachings were handed down: that His plan for man was revealed, and His lifestyle expectations for believers were made known. The promises of His kingdom without end were preserved and delivered from the first day: mentor/facilitator to disciple from house to house.
The strength of discipleship grew and sustained the teachings of the Church until it reached us today. Now is our hour to join these courageous soldiers of the Light and do the same. Armed with the complete Word of God, this first-century model, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are fully prepared to fulfill the ASSIGNMENT!
Open Homes Open Hearts
The facilitator/disciple relationships that effectively spread the Gospel of Christ across the world throughout the ages are calling us to rediscover the power of discipleship. Following, we share our personal experiences as disciples in a home group setting and then as facilitators and mentors.
We were first introduced to “cell groups” in 1976. The pastor of our home church - which was the fastest growing church in the nation - discovered that founding members of the congregation who were accustomed to a church body of a few hundred were expressing feeling out of touch or alienated in what had grown rapidly into a church of many thousands. Congregants felt the Jesus movement had thrust upon them over-crowded pews filled with zealous new converts with whom they had no relationships or common experience.
Our senior pastor had to find a solution for the founding members and new ones alike. After reading that Dr. Paul Yonggi Cho’s great church in Seoul, Korea had found a solution to a similar problem, he met Dr. Cho seeking his help. Dr. Cho - whose church grew to over 830,000 and was cited as the largest in Christendom - encouraged our pastor to start home groups.
Dr. Cho’s “cell group” concept was that individual cells of the greater body meet weekly with a mission of disciplining believers, praying for one another’s needs, and providing fellowship among members. Dr. Cho’s members were encouraged to join groups within a short distance from their homes and with groups that shared commonality: family members, work associates, neighbors, and so on.
As soon as the cell group opportunity for fellowship was announced, we eagerly joined hoping to form new relationships with other believers. After receiving Christ, many had found their former worldly friends fading away. Like us, they were eager to form new friends who shared our faith and values.
According to Dr. Cho’s formula, we were encouraged to visit a cell group within proximity to our home. Living some 20 miles away from our church, we attended the only option offered just a couple of miles away. The group of around a dozen participants was very welcoming. Over time, the relational bonds formed there laid the groundwork that eventually led us into full-time ministry. Within a few months of joining and regularly attending a home group, our cell leader recommended us to his elder as candidates to oversee a group in our home.
The power of home groups for nurturing people in the faith, and for developing lasting friendships, has caused us to remain committed to Christian mentoring for more than forty years. To this day, we remain in a close relationship with our first home group leader and the pastor who called us to our first mission for God: facilitating a home group. Open homes equal open hearts!
Let Go and Let God
Having hosted home groups since the '70s, we can speak from experience about the significant difference between large, home groups with 50 or more regularly attending, and small home groups: with 12 or fewer members. The largest group we led in our home was a wonder: a wonder we survived! From 40 to 50 attended each Friday night… some with young children and infants in tow. Meetings were exciting and filled with testimonies and answered prayers. The miraculous was common. Many came to Christ and into the fullness of the Holy Spirit through their close relationship with us and others in the group. A local street ministry for the homeless and those newly released from prison brought their new converts to be baptized in our lake. Members of our home group learned to plant seeds into the Kingdom by giving to “the least of these”: donating clothing, toiletries, food, and Bibles.
Home group members were filled with the Holy Spirit, taught to minister in His gifts, and encouraged to manifest the fruit of the Spirit beyond the walls of the church or our fellowship. The Word was discussed, memorized, and utilized for solving life’s challenges. There was plenty of laughter and sometimes weeping. We became a true family: a mixture of mayhem and majesty!
Many of our original home group members remain among our dearest friends after more than forty years. One couple, who arrived freshly “born-again” from Jesus ’77, was on the brink of divorce. We began to intensely disciple them and counsel them three times a week. God moved in their lives and gloriously delivered them and restored their love.
Through their Christ-transformed lives, they were able to win their entire family to Jesus. We formed a deep and lasting bond. When we left our careers and answered the call as evangelists, they were the first to become our ministry partners and remain so today. And, they have continued what we began with them.
For decades these dear friends have facilitated home groups. Today, they have three groups: two groups for women and the third group for couples. They credit those early days of discipleship as the foundation of their success in every area of life and their ongoing love of sharing Jesus with others. Discipleship is the gift that keeps giving!
Another home group success story from that same time frame is that of a gentleman who was saved at Jesus ’76. He went on to serve as an usher, and then became a member of the church’s board. Now in his 80s, he continues serving in that capacity. He and his wife have opened their home consistently to the same group of believers they began with in the 70s. Discipleship has been their joyful life’s work.
Although many were touched by God significantly in our first home group, there were certain negatives to having such a large group. As you’d expect, having so many bodies in a home poses physical challenges like providing enough seating. Being able to hear everyone when they are speaking, or praying was often an issue.
Had we not been blessed with a larger home with open spaces, the number we hosted would have been impossible to handle. Even small things like keeping on top of having a full coffee pot or having a volunteer lined up to watch the children in a separate space were a big stretch. However, the option of saying “stay home if you don’t have a babysitter” would have left those most in need of fellowship without it. By God’s grace, we managed to clean up spilled Kool-Aid and cookie crumbs with a smile in the afterglow of Jesus always showing up each time we opened our home to meet our little band of believers.
The most difficult challenge, as our home group grew, was not being able to effectively use the Socratic technique of asking questions and soliciting the whole group’s participation in conversation and discovery. Some tended to talk too long, and others not at all. Not everyone was comfortable sharing their personal needs or prayer requests or commenting on the topic of discussion in front of people they didn’t know well.
The time required of us as facilitators became by necessity pastoral in nature. Personal one-on-one mentoring, counseling, Bible study for topical subjects we shared, and setting aside blocks of time for group and individual fellowship became taxing with our other life responsibilities. We found ourselves fulfilling a pastor’s role without a staff to assist us.
Since the megachurch out of which these groups were formed was developing the "cell group/home group ministry" for the first time - as were many churches in the US and worldwide - there was no system in place for recognizing and releasing new group leaders or a plan for dividing up groups that became too large. The early days proved difficult for keeping gatherings intimate and effective.
When our group first formed, the church had told people to attend our group – as we were first directed – if it was within proximity to their home. However, we found that over time, most attendees who attended consistently first came as invited guests of someone with whom they shared familial ties or had already formed bonds at church, work, or through common interests.
Concerning discipleship, the earlier, smaller group was more conducive to establishing members in the faith. The larger our group grew, the more it proved difficult to maintain the development of strong relationships, consistent discipleship training, and spiritual accountability. For some, it became a spectator experience rather than an environment of transformation.
Small group experiences over the years have proved to be amazing, in that through the close, personal interactions, strong and lasting relationships were created. Disciples were strengthened by a united purpose and vision to be transformed - individually and as a group - into the image of Christ.
In our last small home group, we mentored young adults who were in their late teens to mid-twenties. Eventually, 7 of the 8 regular attendees followed a call into various ministries. After two years of applied topical Bible study, and accountability within a fellowship of committed believers, the group learned how to be spiritually empowered and God-dependent. Weekly fellowship based on these principles equipped them to activate their faith and become overcomers and soul-winners among their peers.
The first-century model we have followed proved to engage disciples in the process and resulted in them being fully equipped to successfully live within Biblical guidelines. They learned that trusting God’s Word and Spirit to answer all of life's challenges is a working formula. They experienced the joy of sharing God's Word, and with passion surrendered to the transformational work needing to be done in order to discover and live out God's plan for their lives.
Whether in home groups of many or few, members discovered and were enlivened to become who God intended and uniquely empowered them to be. Like the Bereans of old, they sought the truth; and the Truth set them free.
“These (Bereans) were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things (teachings of the Apostles) were so.”
Acts 17:11 New King James Version
Advantages of Small Groups
The following list of advantages of small home groups for discipleship was compiled by the renowned Bible teacher, the late Dr. Chuck Missler: Koinonia House Ministries.
Small church groups grow when they are Spirit-led Mitosis: Disciplined Multiplication that is free of growth barriers: no property limitations.
• The participants seek involvement: they belong. It is not a spectator gathering.
• Personal transformation and accountability – transparency
• More effective for new Christians. They can ask questions, get answers, and change
• Solves leadership crisis
• Biblical Pattern
• Persecution proof structure.
• More efficient- low cost - little overhead
A Fresh Approach to the Ageless Assignment
Jesus often discipled His followers by meeting house to house and sharing the essentials of His message in those intimate settings. He also used the highest technology of His day when He rowed off shore and let the moisture of the Sea of Galilee carry His voice to thousands on the amphitheater-shaped hillside. When Jesus told his followers that they would do even greater things than He had done, we imagine He spoke of such a time as this when the reach of technology could connect his disciples even in the remotest parts of the world.
We do not have to be physically limited in our outreach or weary worn like the disciples of old traveling by foot on dusty trails from town to town. Via Zoom meetings, Facebook calls, or other software programs that help us reach out and stay connected, we can "meet" with people house to house and across the world even during a global pandemic!
At present, we have been consistently meeting twice a month for over five years with a group of CEOs for spiritual discipleship using Zoom technology. We have also utilized other technology to share our discipleship series through an interpreter in Pakistan. We find ourselves in a day of endless opportunity where our outreach is not limited by walls or distance. Only apathy and slothfulness hinder us from opening our homes and saying: "Whosoever will may come. Let us join our hearts and minds and learn about the God of the Bible together”.
A life of grace and hope is awaiting you as you gather with a few friends and share a cup of coffee or tea. Together, you can unearth the gems of wisdom leading to abundance in every aspect of life found in the Word of God. The assignment issued from the lips of Jesus to His first followers remains the great commission of this age. "Go into the world and make disciples". Be obedient and surrendered to His call. Begin TODAY!
The Power of Mentorship as a Facilitator
men·tor noun\'men-ˌtȯr, -tər\
a: a trusted counselor or guide
b: tutor, coach
Almost all successful people credit a mentor with launching them in the direction of their dreams and with instilling in them a belief in possibilities. A mentor is not a financial resource, one supplying social connections, or the one who "makes things happen" for their protégé. Rather, a mentor is a guide, an encourager, and a coach who - when necessary – speaks into our lives saying: "Get in the game with your whole heart! You can do it!" In other words, a mentor is that special angel in our corner who supports us by pointing us in the direction of the Source of all that is good, true, and beautiful!
The ultimate goal of a mentor is to bring about change, transformation, and personal growth in their students’ lives. For each personal coach or mentor, finding the most effective method to accomplish those goals, and how to increase your effectiveness, is pivotal in your success and theirs.
fa·cil·i·ta·tor noun| \ fə-ˈsi-lə-ˌtā-tər \
: someone or something that facilitates something: especially someone who helps to bring about an outcome (such as learning, productivity, or communication) by providing indirect or unobtrusive assistance, guidance, or supervision. (i.e., the workshop's facilitator kept the discussion flowing smoothly).
The student's (disciple’s) job is discovery. The facilitator’s job is to assist them in the discovery process. A facilitator helps to bring about the desired outcome. They point students toward transformation by directing them to the Source: God’s Word. Through topical studies and group interaction, students are guided into the knowledge and practice of the faith. This best occurs, not by strictly teaching or talking to them, but by use of the Socratic method of teaching: asking questions and provoking a response. By encouraging every student to become involved in the discussion, they “buy in” to spiritual concepts and grow. The facilitator’s words of encouragement and guidance help disciples stay on task in order to experience transformation as they renew their minds.
Warning: Do not allow any one person to dominate the discussion. As a facilitator, you are to provoke the group members to think and act on each subject. Facilitators are not expected to teach (offer in-depth theological teaching) in the classical sense of preaching or teaching. Rather, facilitators guide the home group toward interacting with fellow members to jointly come to an understanding of the subject at hand. Reading the Word together, asking questions, listening as each person shares personal insights, prayer, and fellowship work together to accomplish the goal: the forming of true disciples who learn to put into practice the doctrines and teachings of Jesus Christ.
The following pages contain downloadable, topical Bible studies from the Complete in Him Ministry Support Series. They are created to help disciples access Biblical knowledge by subject quickly. They are designed for personal study and as guides for group discussions. Quick Notes are a Primer of Foundational Christian Beliefs and Practices.
For digital copies or download versions click here:
Quick Notes topical studies cover the basic foundational teachings of our faith and are essential for developing a Biblical worldview. Quick Notes should be handed out to each participant as guides and references for discipleship interaction. As a facilitator, study each topic and develop thought-provoking questions before each meeting that will help clarify the disciples' understanding of the subject matter.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”
Psalm 127:1 NASB 1995
You will be amazed at what will happen when you open a Bible and invite the Holy Spirit to teach you and a few others the great and mighty things of which you know not! We have compiled the Quick Notes topical studies based on the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith to help you mentor disciples. Beginning with the revelation of who the God of the Bible is and why the Bible is called the Word of God, disciples will be exposed to, and begin to develop a Biblical worldview. They will learn that Jesus Christ is the perfect God-Man, and the only way for sinners to be forgiven and experience resurrection life. They will come to understand that their belief in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as the sinless Lamb of God is confirmed through a public confession of faith and water baptism. Disciples will be welcomed to the table of the Lord to commemorate Christ’s sacrifice as they partake of Holy Communion. They will be introduced to why and how to pray according to the pattern outlined by Jesus, and it will become integrated into the disciples’ lives.
Additional subjects will confirm Christian practices and beliefs, help disciples cooperate with the laws of God, and result in disciples developing a lifestyle befitting the name Christian: a follower of Jesus Christ who is recognized by their love, character, and lifestyle choices that mirror those of Jesus as recorded in the Scripture.
“Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.”
2 Timothy 2:15 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition
God speed in fulfilling your ASSIGNMENT!