Without discipleship, we easily fall away into the ways of the world. We constantly need guidance from God and strong Christian leaders in our lives. Discipleship is how we remain in step with God, it reminds us that we must lay down our lives and live for Jesus.
What is the purpose of discipleship models? Discipleship models offer practical ways for ministries to disciple their people and how to implement it. The main three models are 3-Strand, corporate & personal discipleship, and the Great Commission.
I encourage you to read about each of these models with open hearts, be willing to see areas where your ministry needs to strengthen discipleship. There are always areas we can be growing in and maybe its time for your ministry to grow in discipleship.
3-Strand Discipleship Model
This discipleship model is also known as the “core model” it combines “Crowd,” “Cell,” and “Core.” The “Crow” is a group of 50+ for example, Sunday church. The “Cell” is a group of 5-16, for example, small group meetings. The “Core” is 3-4 people who meet weekly with a focus on discipleship.
The “Crowd” part is based on how Jesus did ministry. He often spoke to and taught large crowds (Luke 14:25, Mark 5:24, Matthew 8:18).
The “Cell” part is based on Jesus’ twelve disciples, he calls them in Mark 3:13-19. Jesus and his disciples, had fellowship together, for example, the Last Supper. Matthew 26:20 says, “When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.” They broke bread and drank wine together, they enjoyed each others company. Jesus not only trained his disciples, but he also took the time to eat with them and have community together.
Jesus did life with his disciples, this shows us today how important it is for us to have a community and people who will encourage us and push us forward.
He also answered the disciple’s questions, taught them, and even rebuked them when needed. We see Jesus rebuking his disciples in Matthew 18. There were children who want to be by Jesus and the disciples try to force them away. Jesus tells them to let the children come. He explains why the children should come to him in verse 3, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Here, Jesus showed the disciples that not only are children valuable but that they will have to become like a child to enter the kingdom.
The Core people for Jesus were James, Peter, and John. They are also known as his “inner circle.” Jesus is showing that not only does he teach the crowds and the disciples, he also teaches a few. He shows us that discipleship should be done in small groups.
Discipleship is not an option. Jesus says that if anyone would come after me, he must follow me.Timothy Keller
How to Implement the 3-Strand Discipleship Model
First, to implement this model your church or ministry will need to ask if you have each one of these areas already in place, do you have weekly small groups? Do you have groups of 3-4 people that meet weekly?
If the answer is no to either of these questions, you would start by having weekly small groups. From there, you could partner people who live by each other to have the “Core” group. It would be wise to have a leader or elder of the church in each “Core” group (note that group groups are gender-specific).
If you decide to use this model in your church, I would encourage you to explain the importance of the “Core” group and the reason behind it to your church. Tell them how important discipleship is!
You may want to have a sermon series on discipleship as well to show the importance it plays in the life of a Christian. By preaching sermons on discipleship, you would be creating a culture of growth and discipleship in your ministry.
Corporate & Personal Discipleship Model
This model is similar to the 3-Strand model because it uses both crowd and personal discipleship. This model is broad and leaves you room to figure out how you want to implement this in your church. It simply uses two types of discipleship: corporate & personal.
First, the corporate part of this model. The corporate aspect is what churches typically do best, this includes Sunday service and large group events. Corporate discipleship is important because it opens the door for the whole church to learn and grow together. You need the time as a body to worship and learn from the Word of God.
The personal discipleship is what many churches are missing today. Having weekly times of corporate discipleship is wonderful, but it’s not enough. Jesus didn’t just preach to crowds, but he also trained his disciples and inner circle. He teaches us how the importance of having both corporate teachings and times of training in a small group is.
Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.Dietrich Bonhoeffer
How to Implement the Corporate & Personal Discipleship Model
This discipleship model can be implemented in your church or ministry by creating time for personal discipleship. Here are three ideas of how to incorporate personal discipleship:
- Group Bible Studies
- Sermon Bible Reading Plan
- Home Groups
Personal discipleship doesn’t have to be one-on-one, it can be a small group. Your ministry will become healthier when you take the time to include personal discipleship because the members are being better trained and equipped.
The Great Commission Model
The Great Commission model focuses on discipleship with fulfilling the Great Commission. Jesus gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, before he went back to heaven. He told his disciples,
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to fulfill the Great Commission, just as Jesus’ disciples were too. This model believes that as you fulfill the Great Commission as a ministry, the people within your ministry will grow and become more Christ-like.
Our Lord’s conception of discipleshp is not that we work for God, but God works through us.C.S Lewis
How to Implement the Great Commission Model
You could implement this model into your ministry by financially supporting missionaries, praying for an unreached people group, go on a mission trip, or partner with local mission organizations. Get creative! Consider hosting a meeting to brainstorm ideas of how you can support missions.
Most importantly, pray and ask God how he would like your ministry to be involved. All believers in Christ have a role to play in missions, what is your ministries role and how can you people in your ministry be involved?
I would recommend pairing this model along with one of the first two models mentioned, either the 3-Strand or Corporate & Personal Discipleship model. While we are called to fulfill the Great Commission, having personal discipleship or core groups is wise because it allows people to be trained in a small setting.
Strong discipleship with strength your ministry as the people within your ministry grow in their faith and walk closer with God. Take the time and resources you have to pour wisdom and teaching into the members or your ministry!
Salvation is free, but discipleship costs everything we have.Billy Graham