How to Find A Discipleship Curriculum for Your Church
Updated: Sep 27
This is one of the modules from my discipleship coaching program. Click through to learn more.
A prudent question is one-half of wisdom. - Francis Bacon
One of the best books I have read on entrepreneurship is “Who Not How” - by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy.
Here’s the premise of the book:
Most entrepreneurs who are starting off, ask the wrong question when they run into a problem. They ask, “How can I solve this problem?” This is a positive attitude, and often helps solve problems early in a business. It’s also natural, because entrepreneurs are driven, quick learners and achievers. But this question will keep new businesses stuck. The right question is, “Who can help me solve this problem?”
Let me give you an example:
Suppose that you run into an issue at your small church, such as not having a bulletin for the upcoming Sunday service. The immediate response might be to think, "I guess I'll just learn how to lay out a bulletin and print it every week." Great, now you’ve got a bulletin.
But the next week, you realize you need a website. You might think that you need to learn how to design one yourself. But then you need graphics and photos. So you take them yourself, and then do the layout and design work. This gives you some expertise in how to create graphics, so you start creating some for your preaching series.
Now that you have graphics, you might as well have some social media presence. So you start doing that. (
And learning how by reading blog posts about it.)
Now, you’re doing the same things you’ve been doing, but it’s taking longer every week.
Add in Google Business pages, church bookkeeping, running Facebook ads, music for worship, pastoral counseling… you’re overwhelmed, and we haven’t even gotten to creating a discipleship curriculum yet!
Thinking "who, not how" about discipleship curriculum
Instead, what if you asked yourself "who can help me create these things? Do you think it would lead to better solutions that save time and resources? For example, you might ask if someone in your church has experience with graphic design and would be willing to help with creating graphics. Or, you might consider hiring a professional to design your website, rather than attempting to do it yourself.
If everything new in your church involves you taking time & energy to do it, you’ll waste energy & time that could be given to something else that
was more important
gave a better return
was more in your strength zone
To be honest with you, I used to be the worst at this. When I first started, our church had very limited funds. I remember one Sunday night, my treasurer told me that all the bills were paid, but we only had $200 left in the church checking account and asked me not to spend any money that week. I understand how it feels to only have time and your own skills available to you.
However, if you continue to approach every problem by taking on the learning curve and doing tasks that you may not be good at or don't enjoy, it will drain your energy from things that you could and should be doing to make progress. This can be counterproductive and can prevent you from moving forward.
So how can we break free from “how can I solve this problem?” and move to a “who” mindset?
Here are two mindset shifts you need to make to find a good disciple making partner for any area of your church (even beyond discipleship):
1. Reject the Messiah complex.
Pastor, hear me: You are not lesser if you use someone else’s curricula.
This means acknowledging that you are not the sole savior and that you don't have to do everything yourself. Don't feel guilty about using someone else's work or ideas. Even the most insightful sermons or teachings are often inspired by others' work. Rather than feeling like you have to come up with everything yourself, embrace the fact that you can collaborate with others and utilize their expertise.
For example, I created the graphic work on 2 of my NewStart discipleship resources, but I hired someone else to do the rest of my resources. Utilizing someone else's knowledge and experience will likely be more efficient and cost-effective in the long run, freeing up your time to focus on what's most important.
While you might be capable of designing a system just as good as NewStart Discipleship, I can personally guarantee that it would take hundreds of hours!
Here’s a helpful rule of thumb:
If someone else can do it 70% as well as you can, they should!
Set yourself free: go do what is core to your mission, and in your gift zone.
2. Get over the fear of using other people’s discipleship curriculum.
Did you hear about the guy who said, “I’ll be original, or nothing!” … and he was both!
One important aspect of using someone else's material for disciple making is getting over the emotional fear and guilt associated with it. Listen: It’s not a shame, it doesn’t make you less of a “real” pastor… and honestly, people don’t mind. They want to be well-fed and well-led. Don’t steal, cite when appropriate, but remember – most sheep don’t care where the grass came from.
You don’t have to be the guy who has all the answers. Release yourself from the need to be the expert on everything!
When I was in Bible college preaching class, my instructor told me he used to struggle using any outline from other preachers. Then, one day he heard Billy Graham preach a sermon and thought “That’s a great outline! I need to remember that one and maybe I’ll use it some day.” A few weeks later, he was reading a book by Clovis Chappell. He came across exactly the same outline!
There you go. If Billy Graham can do it, then you can do it, too!
10 Reasons to choose me as your Disciple Making Curriculum
If you’re going to find a “who” for discipleship, I would like to suggest it be NewStart Discipleship. Here are 10 reasons why I think I would be a good partner:
1. NewStart Discipleship can deliver excellence in less time.
An unexpected benefit of using a “who”: Excellence in less time.
When someone new gets saved, the last thing you want to give them is a faded photocopy of a type-written page from 1972.
Excellence is a worthwhile goal. It “honors God and inspires people,” as one pastor said. (It was Bill Hybels, but don’t let that distract you.) But excellence, or professionalism, is hard. It takes hours of work. It takes noticing details, fixing them, and delivering work that is quality on a consistent basis.
Every single one of my discipleship tools works, and is quality. You don’t have to be ashamed of any of it.
2. NewStart is way cheaper than hiring a discipleship pastor.
If you're thinking, who, not how, then one possible solution is to hire someone to create a discipleship pathway especially for your church. But hiring staff members, even for something as mission critical as discipleship, is expensive!
If you hired me as a discipleship pastor, it would cost you over $50,000 per year. (I’ve got 7 kids, and you can’t easily put a family that size in a 3 bed/1 bath house!)
My goal is to be professional AND affordable, by delivering quality discipleship materials at scale, instead of 1-to-1.
3. I’m a pastor, not a theorist.
I’m actually a pastor at a smaller church in Oklahoma City. I spent years frustrated with discipleship, but not really knowing how to break out of that frustration. Now I’m committed to starting a multi-decade disciple-multiplying movement here.
I didn’t learn this in an ivory tower. I learned it in a local church in an urban center. I think it will work where you are, too!
4. I’m still developing disciple curriculum.
I’m not done. I’m actively developing tools for the next 3-4 years, one module at a time. In fact, my goal is to have 2-3 years worth of material, enough to walk with a disciple from day 1 to the end of year 3.
As I develop, I just add the tools I create to NewStart members area – for FREE. No additional cost.
This means that your value keeps going UP over the years, while your COST doesn’t.
5. All my materials for making disciples are customizable, AND work out-of-the-box.
I have some churches who want to customize – they want to:
Replace a couple QR codes with one of their own. Great, you can do that!
Put their logo on the front of the Journal. Great, you can do that!
Let their own pastor do the “Welcome to the Family of God” intro for their new Christians. Great, you can do that, too!
Other churches and pastors don’t have the staff, or the technical know-how. All they want is to get started with some good quality discipleship materials by THIS SUNDAY.
No problem! It all works right out of the box.
6. “Feel free not to quote me.”
I always tell people that use NewStart to completely ignore the need to cite me, or give me credit, in front of their church family.
Or, as Rick Warren once said,
“The first time you quote me, say ‘Rick Warren said…’”
“The second time you quote me, say ‘Someone once said…’”
“The third time you quote me, say ‘I’ve always said…’”
If you use something from my system, you don't have to mention the author's name. Just make it yours, tweak it, and adapt it to create something unique and feed your disciples!
7. I’m orthodox and biblical.
You don’t have to worry about what your disciples are going to see. Is he going to suggest that Jesus didn't really die for our sins? Is he going to do mostly shallow pop psychology? Is he going to suggest that we should unhitch our faith from the Old Testament?
No, no need to worry about any of those things. I love the Nicene and Apostles Creed. I have immense respect for the Great Tradition, the Rule of Faith, and I'm just as likely to quote Irenaeus as I am to quote a modern psychologist.
I think every new disciple should be brought up a thrilling at the Orthodox Christian faith! This is what the ancients have commended, and died for.
Dr Keith Drury once said, "some things are written in blood, some things are written in pin, and some things are written in pencil." Yes! Our hearts should be deeply committed to those things written in blood.
8. I leave the controversial issues to you.
The first year of making disciples is not a time to tackle modes of baptism, “women speaking in church,” etc. I have beliefs on those kinds of issues, but I’m not bringing that right out up front like it’s the Trinity or The Deity of Christ.
I’m not going to talk about Democrats or Republicans. Sure, I’ll point out that Christians ought to be pro-life if I’m dealing with a passage about it. But I’m not going to go all-in on Trump, Fox/CNN, or any other political issue.
If you think those kinds of things are HUGE issues that should be dealt with in year one, OK. NewStart might not be for you.
Bottom line, I know there’s disagreement on that kind of stuff, and I’m going to let you handle it however you want.
NewStart is going to focus on Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
Believing In Jesus.
9. NewStart easily adapts to any size church.
Some churches that use my strategy for making disciples are churches of 20 people. Some are upwards of 500. Here's how I deal with that:
A subscription to NewStart includes an unlimited printing license for all of the tools that I create. This creates incredible flexibility. If you suddenly discover on Sunday morning that you are preaching a gospel-oriented message and don't have any more NewStart discipleship journals, just go to your computer and push print! Et voila'! More disciple-making materials.
Or, you can order several of the tools from me, at cost. I print 500 or 1000 of them at a time, so I wind up with a significant discount. I have a special members only printing link that you receive when you sign up. Every member church is able to order at a price that you could never get at a local printer, printing 10 or 20 copies at a time.
Whether you have one disciple, or 100 disciples to work with, this is a solution that grows along with you!
10. Robust support for your launch process.
One nice feature of NewStart Discipleship is that it includes plenty of resources to lift the load of launching it with excellence at your church:
Sermons (most with handouts and powerpoints)
Sermon graphics for promotion & social media use
Sermon video bumpers
When I launched NewStart, I printed 100 copies of the Journal, and passed them out at my church. I told the congregation, “I know you may have been a Christian for years, but I want everyone to be familiar with this tool. Guess why? Because I’m going to come to you someday, and say, ‘Hey, Bill – this is Bob. Bob just became a follower of Jesus. I want YOU to take him through the NewStart Journal that we went through!’”
It's time to take the leap into disciple making!
I'm going to make it easier. Here's a significant discount for you:
50% OFF Special for NewStart Discipleship
If you’ve made it this far, you’re one of those rare people who finishes things. I want to reward you, by giving you a special deal.
Watch this 1 hour discipleship training, and at the end, there’s a special link that only exists there. When you use it, it will give you an annual price that is 50% off the regular rate.