How do 6 become 180?

Talking with my friends last night, they brought up the idea that if 9% of a group are completely committed to something, they would be able to sway the rest of the 91% who are only moderately committed to their own ideas.

Last summer I started a discipleship program called Immerse. It was, and continues to be a God-thing. Somehow we ended up focusing this program on all the right things and avoiding a lot of the pitfalls that many other discipleship programs have fallen into. I credit this to the One who leads us, because I’m just not that smart. Plus, a lot of the things that we decided to do happened without a lot of forethought. God’s favor is evident.

The primary thing that I think every discipleship “program” should do is scrap the “program” and replace it with “relationship.” Although the term is helpful in describing the movement, programs don’t disciple people. Bible studies don’t disciple people. People disciple people. Jesus didn’t come to manage programs, He came to change people because He knew that changed people would change everything else. Maybe I should change the name of Immerse to “Immerse Discipleship Movement.” I like that! Maybe that will happen soon… depending mostly on the brochures that are already printed!

If 9% of my church became a part of this type of disciple-making that I have been working for, we could direct the church, as a whole, toward relationship-based discipleship. 9% is 180 people. What if 180 people were being directly discipled by a spiritual father or mother? Soon everyone who joins our mega-church could be connected with someone who would be able to give them a significant amount of their attention and help them on their spiritual journey.

We started with six. I discipled three, my co-leader discipled three. Out of those six, four started discipling their own. Six more joined and began being discipled. One dropped out. Three new leaders heard about what we were doing and joined us. Two new groups were launched. Two of the new disciples are going to start discipling their own, come February. Two more dynamic leaders heard about what we are doing and is joining us. We have yet to know how many we will be discipling this spring. This has all happened in six months.

Mean-while, I am still discipling two of the original three. I don’t have to do everything. I trust them. I trust the other leaders. I trust those who they are discipling and I will trust those who get discipled by them. More importantly, I trust the God that is at work in them. From day one, my primary goal is to teach them that God is capable of leading them and that He speaks. He is a better leader than they are followers and He can be trusted. We practice listening to the voice of Father through Holy Spirit and allow Him to be the first one to contribute to our conversations about scripture.

If someone comes into our “program” and learns only one thing, I want it to be that God speaks to them and He is SO good at speaking that He can communicate even if they’re really bad at listening. If they could learn another thing, it would be that they aren’t alone. They are part of the family and they have someone they can go to.

If there is one last thing that I would have for the people being discipled, it is that they go through Prayer Resolution so that they can be as healthy as possible. Every seed reproduces its own health or disease in the fruit it eventually bares. Not everyone makes time for this sort of thing, but I always recommend it.

If you are wondering if something like this can happen at your church. It can. You are the church. Let’s talk.


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About Nathan Banker

Nathan, Michelle and their two sons are occupational ministers in the Twin Cities. They do spiritual mentoring, a form of prayer ministry call Prayer Resolution and help run a small church-like community called Immerse. They dream of changing the world, one person at a time.

2 responses to “How do 6 become 180?”

  1. smackdabchina says :

    Wow Nate! I couldn’t agree more, it’s about relationship not program. Even words like “movement” shift our focus away from relationship to something bigger than 1:1 relationship though. I also agree we are all seeds, we reproduce ourselves, so we need to put off the old self before we reproduce, so PR is the beginning of discipleship.

    • nathanbanker says :

      Absolutely Dad. I am struggling with how to get PR more into this process. On one hand, we have a waiting list of people who have been waiting for so long to go through PR and on the other hand I have those that I am discipling and those that they are discipling. At this point, the best I can do is leave a night open for any of our leaders to do a one-time session of PR whenever they can while still plugging away at the list. There is a lot that can be done without the entire PR process, primarily that they learn how to hear from their Father themselves. Until they are able to go through PR, this is the best thing I can do for them. Such a difficult balancing act.

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