Discipleship training 101: A comprehensive introduction

Watching people respond to an invitation to put their faith in Jesus Christ is an incredible moment. It’s exciting to know they’re now a brother or sister in Christ. Unfortunately, this can also be a vulnerable time for new believers. They need discipleship training to help them develop deep roots and flourish as Christians. 

While their faith may be genuine, it’s likely untested. However, every new believer will face temptations and challenges to their newfound faith. Like the parable of the sower and the seeds in Matthew 13:1–23, these new Christians may fall away or become disillusioned quickly if church leaders don’t guide them on their faith journey.

Biblical discipleship helps cultivate the excellent soil these new Christians need to remain true to the faith. 

The purpose and benefits of discipleship training

Offering discipleship training provides several benefits not only for the new believer, but also for their local church. Let’s take a look at some of them.

1. Help new believers stay grounded in their faith

Today’s culture bombards new Christians with reasons to doubt their faith. However, a discipleship program will help develop a firm foundation so they can withstand temptation and defend their beliefs. It also helps align your people with the mission and values of your church.

2. Create close-knit communities

People that attend discipleship training create a sense of belonging and community within the church. Learning to become like Jesus helps form close bonds with one another as they study and grow together spiritually. These relationships provide a support system during life's ups and downs.

3. Build stronger families

When spouses take discipleship classes together, they are more likely to have healthier relationships with each other and with their children. You can also use these classes to teach parents how to lead devotional times with their families.

4. Multiply discipleship in others

The goal of discipleship is not just personal growth but also multiplication. As individuals in your discipleship training are equipped and grow spiritually, they are more likely to become disciple-makers themselves! This creates a cycle of spiritual growth and mentorship within the church, your community, and beyond.

5. Fill the church’s leadership pipeline

People on the discipleship path are likely the best candidates to serve as volunteers. As they complete the program, consider who might have the potential to serve as a future leader within the church. Creating a culture of discipleship can help you raise the next generation of leaders.

Essential components for effective discipleship training

Making disciples doesn’t happen accidentally, so you should develop a discipleship plan to succeed. You’ll need a few essential components to make this effective, including:

1. Discipleship training curriculum

Look for (or create) a discipleship curriculum that encompasses materials on crucial elements of the faith and how to apply them in daily life. Using a curriculum that includes the best discipleship books helps ensure everyone who your church trains receives excellent instruction. The curriculum is also helpful for those teaching as it reduces their preparation time and effort.

2. Ample time

Discipleship isn’t a quick process. You will need several church leaders able to devote time to preparation and instruction. Additionally, any discipleship path will take more than a few weeks to complete (assuming classes meet weekly). Remember that Jesus spent all day, every day, with His disciples for several years before ascending to Heaven. We don’t have that much time with people who attend weekly church services, so be prepared for true discipleship to be a long-term effort.

3. Commitment to relationships

Discipleship can be messy. People are complicated and often come with complicated personal issues, challenging situations, and many questions. Some individuals may be more open to coaching than others. Some might need more hand-holding and reassurance. 

Anyone who volunteers to teach in a discipleship program must be ready for intense relational demands. Jesus faced challenges with the original twelve disciples, so we can expect to meet a few challenges of our own. The key is to remain committed to developing relationships and serving new believers as they seek to grow in their spiritual life.

Evaluating your training: Metrics for growth and impact

Since discipleship is a highly relational and spiritual concept, it can be difficult to assess its effectiveness. However, tracking a few key metrics can help you determine if your church’s program is trending in the right direction.

  • What percentage of enrolled students complete the discipleship program?
  • What percentage of your members are currently in the program or have completed the program?
  • What percentage of those who’ve completed the program now serve in some capacity within the church?
  • What percentage of students attend classes weekly?
  • Have any students left the faith after completing the program? If so, how many and why?

Beyond the classroom: Applying discipleship training in daily life

As you implement your model of discipleship, be sure to include specifics on applying elements of the faith in daily life—work, home, school, and relationships. Talk about real-world scenarios you’ve faced, ask them what they’re dealing with, and offer practical solutions. 

Discipleship training is a critical role of the spiritual growth of your church. Provide new believers with the opportunity to develop deep roots. Walk alongside them in their faith journey and watch as they become your church’s next generation of disciple-makers.

From novice to disciple: How training transforms lives

A church with a culture of discipleship can help participants thrive in today’s increasingly secular culture. They will walk into challenging situations equipped with practical approaches that align with scripture. They’ll know how to respond to skeptics with confidence, logic, and love. 

Through effective discipleship training, your church can equip generations of believers to defend the faith and win others to Christ. 

Give your church digital discipleship training resources

If your church is live streaming your services, posting church videos, or publishing blogs, you already have some great discipleship content. The best way to share that content is through the Subsplash Platform

With Subsplash, you can livestream to your church’s website, church app, and on your social media at the same time, and your people can chat in a safe and moderated environment. And when you’re done, Subsplash converts your streams to on-demand video and audio. You get a beautiful media library that allows you to tag your sermons by topic, speaker name, and scripture verses, making it easy for people to search and find the videos they want to watch. 

You also get world-class discipleship resources from The Bible Project, Ligonier, The Chosen, and more, at no extra cost! To find out more about giving your church the best discipleship content, [.blog-contact-cta]connect with us today! [.blog-contact-cta]

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Deborah Ike, Guest author

Deborah Ike is a wife, home-schooling mama, and writer. With over 20 years of experience in business consulting and ministry, she writes to provide insights and tips to church leaders. She specializes in church business administration topics. 

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