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Discipleship Strategies: How to Get Your First 3 Disciples

This is part 5 of a 10-post blog series about Getting Started with Discipleship Ministry. That link is the index of all 10 posts. If you prefer learning by video workshop, use the link at the bottom of this post.

course with discipleship strategies - workshop on a laptop

The first 4 of this discipleship training series of posts, focused on clarity, getting clear on what it is that you mean by discipleship, how you're going to communicate it, writing your pitches, planning out your entryway and your process.

Now we’re moving to uber-practical discipleship strategies and tactics. We're going to deep dive into very specific action plans to get started with discipleship in your local church.

As you add these tactics, continue doing the stuff that you’re doing. Maybe you clean the church and mow the lawn, do worship planning, and sermon prep. But we’re going to add some very specific actions you can take to move forward on discipleship.

Step #1: Just ask.

I know that seems simple.

But you'd be shocked at how frequently leaders don't get what they want because they are waiting for someone to ASK YOU. Don't waste time waiting for someone to ask.

So where's exactly what I'd suggest you do:

First, pick 5 names from your circle of influence. (How about 3 inside your church and 2 outside in the community?)

Next, text them all this message:

"Hey! I'm working on creating a discipleship plan where I spend a few months with a person and really just pour into their lives how to walk with Jesus and find a deeper spiritual life. I thought of you, and though you'd be someone I'd love to coach in this area. I want to get together over some pizza and explain more. Would you be interested?"

#2. Follow up.

If they don’t answer, you need to understand that follow up is actually more effective than first contact… so text them the next day.

“Just bumping yesterday’s text to the top of your inbox :)”

Watch and see if I’m right: 75% of your answers will come from follow-up, not the initial contact. If they say yes, then the next conversation can go something like this:

“This would mean I'd give you a clear pathway to follow Jesus, and I'd be an encourager, a coach. I'd like to meet with you once a week, and I'd check in a couple times a week on the phone or text. What do you think?”

I’m serious. Just put it out there.

You’ll get a variety of answers. You will get some people who say, “Well, I can't next week, but that sounds interesting.” Some will say, “I'm not sure I can do that right now.” But somebody will say, “Yes.”

When I did this the very first time, I had one person say, “too busy of a season right now at work, but I would like to talk more about it.” I had two people say, “Yeah, that sounds interesting. That sounds very good.” One person said, “Yeah, I just don't think that that was something that will work for me.”

You'll be surprised, but people will do this. It might only be 1 out of the 5, but you'll probably get started. Get started with them, then do it again in 3 months with 5 new people.

Yes, I know that some of these may not even be converted. But what an opportunity to share the Gospel with them!

Remember, when Jesus invited HIS disciples to come and follow, his first invitation was not "Believe in me," but "come and see!" (See John 1:36-41).

#3: Schedule a conversation that involves food.

You’ll be surprised how frequently this works. Food is the great unifier of people!

You probably should have written a pitch in the last post, but in case you skipped the homework, here’s a general idea:

“I'm wanting to create a group that's really a ‘next level’ group of Christians. People that are committed to going further, faster together. I want to walk with you for about a year, and really give you customized coaching that can help you grow like you never have before and find a real closeness with God, a real sense of purpose in your life spiritually. You’ll get to know the Bible, and really understand it! I’ll provide tools that make it really doable. I know you can do it, even if you don't have a Christian background, and you don't feel like I'm a very good Christian. I promise you this is doable for you. The truth is, we need some heroes who will look around at the world and say, there's got to be something more than this. And I'm going to invest in changing me, and changing the next generation. So who's with me? Are you willing to do this?”

#4: Use the power of the pulpit.

I know: Personal recruitment works better than pulpit announcement every time. That’s why I put personal recruitment right up front in this chapter.

BUT… what isn’t important in the pulpit stops being important in the pew. The church won’t think about it. You have one of the most valuable assets in your church for 30 minutes every Sunday -- their attention. Use it.

  • Open the Word.

  • Tell Stories

  • Call for Commitment in a clear way.

#5: Get others to recruit for you.

After someone say yes to the invitation to discipleship, ask

“Do you know anyone else who you could invite to come along on the journey, that you think would be open to doing it with you? Maybe a coworker or somebody else outside or somebody in your family or somebody in your circle of friends that might be interested?”

Many people won't, but a few people will. Those people who are highly connected or influencers in their circle, or maybe people who were “just having a conversation about this the other day.” You will be surprised how many people have had some kind of spiritual conversation – the Holy Spirit has already tilled up that ground before you got there.

Action Items for this session:

1. Text someone right now.

The temptation is to wait until you’ve got everything ready. Don’t. Do it now, and tell them that it will be in 30 days before you start. That way, you’ve got some built in accountability to continue creating your pathway and plan.

If you don't have a plan yet, of course you can subscribe to NewStart Discipleship tools, and have a plan downloaded and built in the next 7 days, and have your disciple tools in your hand in 14 days or less. (Visit for all the details.)

2. Schedule a time in your day to think and take actions.

If you don’t already have it in your schedule, schedule 10 minutes daily to think about discipleship and act on it. Set an alarm on your phone right now for a time where you can create a little margin (early morning, commute, late night, lunch are usually possible spots.) You might use this to:

  • check in

  • pray for someone

  • brainstorm ideas

  • make notes about what you’d like to do later.

3. Start prepping your pulpit announcements.

Make an initial list of things you could do and say to promote discipleship in the worship service. We’ll be talking about this in more detail later, so it’s just a brainstorming list for right now.

Getting Started With Discipleship Strategies - Video Workshop

getting started with discipleship strategies course on a laptop

Do you prefer to learn in a video workshop format? Purchase the workshop instead! Featuring:

  • an instantly downloadable 36-page workbook

  • print copies for other key leaders in your church

  • 10 practical video coaching sessions

  • specific action items for each session

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