Top 10 questions to ask when developing a discipleship strategy

Reggie McNeal recently gave a webinar on his 10 critical questions that churches should ask as they develop a discipleship strategy for the 21st Century. Each of these represent a pathway toward deeper investigation and prayer around how we can be discipling more effectively.

10: Why are we reluctant to examine our assumptions about discipleship?

Discipleship is critical for a missional culture, and the typical "programmed" church isn't getting us there. And information by itself isn't transformative – people need instruction and practice to actually incorporate the information we give.

One reason for this reluctance is a fear of not having ready answers. Another reason is a lack of experience: many pastors say they've never been discipled, because their seminaries didn't model it for them.

9: How do you start discipleship: developing programs or developing people? 

8: What is the underlying narrative to your discipleship efforts?

The elevator pitch for why we disciple, and our approach. Discipling should be a way to help people grow into their own skin. They have been intentionally created by God – why not help people discover who they are and how to live into that identity?

7: Are you developing a DVR approach to discipleship, or "scheduled programming"? 

Not helpful to force people through a pre-determined program or system on their discipleship journey. People are growing more intolerant of someone scripting their journey, but they will allow someone to shape it.

6: What are the key elements of a discipleship culture?

Customization is critical. Folks are not static in their spiritual journeys.

Inter-generational connections. Millennials are wide open to the life wisdom of their elders. How are we setting this up in our churches?

Discipleship happens in the midst of life, not outside of it. This is the behind the idea of "asynchronous ubiquitous discipleship" that happens in living rooms, microchurches, etc.

Also service is a key element – a lot of people grow the fastest when they're helping others and people who are fully engaged serving others are those who are most alive.

5: How do we move from an information-biased approach to more of behavior-based approach?

People don't connect the dots between their experience without something in their environment helping them. Coaching is key.

Today, people learn by doing first. You can think of it like "Hand:Heart:Head." And debriefing after Hand experiences is important to deliver on learning something.

We can't expect to consume info in a vacuum and have it impact us. Community is critical. And community doesn't happen the way we often manufacture it. It happens shoulder to shoulder, doing and experiencing together.

4: Do our discipleship efforts require people become church people before we can engage them?

3: How do we engage people who aren't susceptible to being congregationalized?

2: How do we help people know they are developing as disciples?

The most fundamentally overlooked component. People are motivated by tracking growth.

Help people identify areas of growth and chart them, just like people go to the doctor for an annual physical. "How is your spiritual growth? What happened with "x" in the past year?" Don't assume it's happening in small groups.

1: How can congregations define their success in terms of discipleship?

There's only one true scorecard: how many people in the congregation believe their lives are being transformed in some way? How many can say: "I'm a better spouse/dad/employer/neighbor"? This is how we determine if discipling strategies are effective.

As a followup, Randy would love to talk shop about discipleship strategies – you can contact him by clicking on his name.