First Steps: One-on-One Discipleship
By Ray Willis
Discipling Another to Love Jesus
Generic discipleship never works. No one likes It, and that's why it never gets done. So, are we ready for something that does work, is loved, and does get done?
Many become Christians. Many walk away. Why? If you were given a new believer to disciple, would you know exactly what to do to maximize the chances that this new believer would reach maturity in Christ?
In January of 2007, Pastor Grant Edwards of Fellowship Church in Springfield, Ohio, published two books: Swimming Lessons: How to Keep New Christians Afloat in a Sinking World, and First Steps: An Adventure for New and Renewed Believers.
Swimming Lessons is an expose of the one-on-one discipleship process he engineered, comparing learning to swim with learning to become a disciple/follower of Jesus. Many think that the best way to learn to swim is to toss a non-swimmer into the deep end and letting them fend for themselves, which doesn’t foster trust or confidence or anything else for that matter. In much the same way, many “old” Christians think that new Christians should naturally want to read their Bible, pray, enjoin themselves to a church and, thereby, grow strong and mature in the Lord.
The problem is, new Christians, unless shown, don’t know how to pray, don’t know how to read and appropriate the Bible in a real and practical way, and find it hard to function in this thing called the Church. For instance, when a new believer begins going to your church, what will they see? Will they see people loving God and serving one another?
The expectation of new believers is that older Christians get it, and they think the church is a perfect place with perfect people. What happens when their expectations are shattered? Most times, they walk out the back door never to be seen again. However misguided some expectations may be, you may never get the chance to disabuse those notions.
One-on-one discipleship, however, addresses expectations and allows a discipler to introduce the new believer to the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, fellowship in the church and evangelism in a simple, understandable and highly personal way using Grant Edwards’ second publication, First Steps: An Adventure for New and Renewed Believers.
Edwards developed the First Steps manual years ago for his own church and it has transformed the way they do ministry. Now he’s equipping other churches to engage in the Great Commission in a powerful way. Today, this ministry is in use in hundreds of churches around the world.
The process of discipling a new believer with First Steps takes just one hour a week over 10-12 weeks, and some of the major concepts deal with issues such as preparing and equipping new believers to overcome temptation and sin with the principle of specificity. The principle of specificity is the key to both retention and personal transformation.
When, for example, a new disciple learns to release their faith through praying God's presence into the minutiae of real life, they come to know personally the extent to which God cares about their situation, God’s desire to commune with them, and how God seeks to bless them in a uniquely personal and purposeful way. Seeing God answer prayer builds faith and makes the discipline of prayer exciting and relevant.
Specificity also translates into Bible study. Think about it: Is it better for a new Christian to start in Genesis and keep going until they reach Revelation? Or, is it better to appropriate the Bible through the memorization of specific passages or verses that speak to their life issues? For instance, if a new believer is tempted to shoplift, we can be certain that the Scriptures referencing stealing, greed and coveting will illumine the mind and begin to change the heart. And, through First Steps, disciples are equipped with a Bible reading method that familiarizes them with the various portions of the Bible in an understandable and meaningful way.
Perhaps just as important, new disciples are challenged to disciple another when they have completed their discipleship process. This is the exponential growth process that involves the entire church rather than leaving the responsibility of discipleship to the professionals.
You may be wondering what the impact of this one-on-one approach to discipleship has been for churches that have been trained to use First Steps. Ed Davis of The Journey Church in Howard, Ohio uses First Steps in their church discipleship training program. "Our church started using the First Steps One-on-One Discipleship program over a year ago," Ed explains. "A number of our church members starting discipling new believers, and we’ve seen significant growth in them. Not only does the person being discipled gain confidence in God’s Word, but the discipler is equally rewarded with the fellowship of one-on-one contact, as well as increased confidence in teaching God’s Word to the new believer."
“With all humility, I can say that it has ushered in an era of renewed passion and vigor to live out the Great Commission and the Great Commandment," said author Grant Edwards. "As a pastor, nothing has been more thrilling than to see our church grab the vision for discipleship and take it to levels that I never imagined.”
When your church experiences a harvest of new believers, do you have a plan or strategy for discipleship that maximizes the chances of those new believers growing optimally in the Lord? With First Steps, you can disciple effectively and optimally … and close the back door to your church. To arrange a seminar for your church, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 937.322.5381 and ask for Ray Willis. Or visit www.disciplinganother.com to learn more.
Read an excerpt of Swimming Lessons.
Order your copy of Swimming Lessons by Grant Edwards
Order your copy of the First Steps Notebook
What are others saying about Swimming Lessons and First Steps?
More Discipleship Resources on Spiritual Life
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Grant Edwards has served as Senior Pastor of Fellowship Christian Church in Springfield, Ohio, for 35 years. He is the founder of Discipling Another To Love Jesus and has discipled hundreds of new believers.
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