Darrell Stetler II
How to Communicate Your Discipleship Process
Communication about your discipleship process matters.
This is Post #4 in this series. To see all 10 posts, you can go here.
The first four posts in this series are on clarity, and then we head into 6 chapters on strategy. We’re talking about clarifying your messaging. We are going to figure out how you're going to cast this vision, to key leaders in your church, to new believers, and to your neighborhood.
Dawson Trotman, the founder of the Navigators (a wonderful discipleship organization) said, “Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and the fingertips.” It’s true. You may feel like it's clear in your head what you want to communicate, but when you put it through your mouth or put it through your hands, it finds a new level of clarity.
Congratulations, you’re in the sales business
“Everyone is selling something,” said Robert Louis Stevenson. And he’s correct.
I know, we’re used to thinking that we’re in the business of proclaiming a free gift, not selling the Gospel. In fact, the thought of selling the Gospel is pretty disgusting to anyone who is serious about the calling of being a pastor.
But we have to come to peace with this idea to plan our communication clearly. The truth is, you are trying to get someone to purchase the Pearl of Great Price, at a cost of their entire life. It is important enough and hard enough to be worth planning your words very carefully.
You’re trying to sell your church on adopting the mission of disciple-making. And it will cost them! To buy this mission is to forsake other shadow missions, which are attractive, but don’t align with Christ’s call to His Church.
How to present discipleship in a compelling way
#1: Identify pain points and pleasure points.
You’re going to need to convince people that “here” is not OK before you can convince them to move “there.” And the hard truth is this: People only do things for one of 2 reasons: Moving away from pain or moving toward pleasure.
That’s it. There are no other motivators available to us!
If you can identify where someone hurts, and what someone wants, you can get them to follow you.
So, for each of the audiences that you need to “sell” discipleship to, what are the pains and pleasures you need to touch?
Here is a starter list for those who are new believers:
Pleasure: Eternal life. This should speak for itself.
Pain: Awkwardness. I don’t know how to do this Christian thing very well.
Pain: Frustration. I feel like everyone else probably knows how to walk with God, and I’m floundering.
Pleasure: Confidence. I feel like I’m well equipped to walk with God.
Pain: I want to help others, but don’t know how.
Pleasure: I can help others around me get to know God.
Pain: Guilt. I know some things aren’t right in my life, and I want to do better.
Pleasure: Purpose. I believe I know why I’m here and why things happen.
Pain: Disconnection from God.
Pleasure: Feeling connected to God.
Pain: I know I ought to read the Bible, but don’t get it.
Pleasure: I want to have the Bible speak to me.
Pain: I don’t want to live a wasted Christian life.
Pleasure: I want my life to count for the Kingdom of God.
Identifying pain or pleasure points helps you create a clear call to discipleship that resonates with what the person already believes.
#2: Avoid “technobabble,” and tell stories.
You know what technobabble is? It’s overdoing technical language when you’re explaining something. In church, we might say “Christianese.”
If I was pitching some electronic device to you, it wouldn’t be best for me to say, “This is a great device, let me tell you all about its circuits. It has the genuine blah blah blah…” Most people would say, “I don’t care about its circuits. Tell me about how it solves my problem. Can you tell me a story of a guy who used it, and how it made a difference for him? Can you tell me how it changed your life? Can you tell me how productive you are now?”
You get the idea. So skip the technobabble, but do tell stories!
Russell Brunson, the entrepreneur I quoted in chapter 2, has a story structure that he calls the “epiphany bridge.” Imagine a stick figure on your left, sad and forlorn, and a happy one on the right, happy and winning.
Now, describe what the left on is feeling: “I was frustrated because I couldn’t _pain point here_. I really wanted to _pleasure point_, but I could never seem to get there. I had tried _inadequate solution_, but all that happened was more of the same. Then one day I realized I needed _your solution here_. My life has changed so much, especially _pleasure result_. It cost me everything, but I gained so much more. I can show you how. Would you be interested?”
“Epiphany bridge” story template:
I was so frustrated, because I couldn’t ____.
I really wanted to ____.
I tried _____.
Suddenly I realized ___.
So I started ___.
___ has changed to ___.
You can do the same, just let me show you how.
Using this idea, we’re going to plan some communication.
Now, some of you might say, “I don’t think this is the way Jesus did it.” Well, I would argue that he did. He tapped into some of the most powerful urges that Jewish men in his day had – freedom, the Kingdom, knowing God, following a rabbi, and more. Sure, some of them were wrong about their motivations at first, but Jesus allowed them to learn as they went. In the meantime, he unflinchingly promised them incredible things, while being brutally honest about the cost.
I’d say you and I should do the same. Offer freedom from guilt, a sense of purpose, emotional health, new levels of victory over sin… and be honest about what it will cost them.
Then invite them along.
#3: Write your 3 pitches.
You’re going to need to pitch discipleship in all kinds of places. Worship services, at the end of sermons, an announcement, over lunch, board meeting. You need to talk about it regularly, so that it becomes a familiar concept to every person in your circle of influence.
Your text message pitch: 360 characters
Your elevator pitch: 60-90 seconds (abbreviated story)
Your coffee pitch: 5-10 minutes (best place for an epiphany bridge story)
Conclude all of them with a clear question: Would you be interested?
This is a clear call to action, an expectation of a yes or no answer.
#4: Set your goal as creating belief, not just informing.
Your job is not to inform them of everything. Your job is to create belief through the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit’s power.
You have a responsibility to help them believe their story can be different than it is now.
I’m going to share one more Russell Brunson concept (yes, I’m sounding like a fanboy, but I’ll risk it.)
Russell has a concept in sales that he calls the “Big Domino” statement.
The "Big Domino" statement: If I can help them believe that [this opportunity] is the key to [whatever they desire most] and is only attainable through [this specific action], then all their other concerns become irrelevant and they have to buy what I’m offering.
Can you help the people in your church believe that?
The core people – can you help them believe that becoming part of a disciple-multiplying movement will help them
…pay the church bills …find a sense of usefulness …help them share heaven’s joy over sinners that repent …see the church sustainably grow
The importance of passion and confidence
Your passion is going to matter so much in your communication. Clear communication is leadership.
People are always anxious. Your core people are anxious. They don’t know what this crazy pastor is going to do next, they don’t know if the church will continue to exist, they don’t know if the world will go nuts, they don’t know if “we” will lose the next election. They don’t know if we can keep the lights on and pay the bills at the church.
Your passion and clear communication is one of the greatest keys to giving them what they need. In his book, The One Thing You Need to Know, Marcus Buckingham says, “Clarity is the antidote to anxiety.” You’ve got to communicate clearly and with certainty and passion.
“This is where we’re going.”
“I know God can help us to make disciples.”
“I am certain that you can make a disciple, who makes other disciples.”
“We’re going to more than make it, we’re going to pass on our faith.”
“We can pass on a brightly lit torch to the next generation of disciples.”
If you need help with your discipleship process
NewStart Discipleship is here to help.
Free 1 Hour Training, “How Any Church Can Be 100% Ready to Disciple New Believers”
10 Session Video Training based on this book:
If you want eyes on your discipleship process, just someone to help discuss your current discipleship strategy, I'd love to offer you a 30 minute zoom call, which you can get at this link, as well.
If you want a complete walkthrough of our current Discipleship strategy:
Action Steps for Chapter 4
1. Identify a "pain points" and “pleasure points” for your discipleship process:
> a new Christian who needs discipleship.
> a long-term Christian who doesn't realize the value of being discipled or discipling others
2. Write your own "epiphany bridge" story.
I was so frustrated, because I couldn’t break thru. (your “main pain.”)
Suddenly I realized…
Here’s what has changed (results).
You can do the same, just let me show you how.
3. Write your three pitches.
Your text message pitch: 360 characters
Your elevator pitch: 90 seconds
Your coffee pitch: 5-10 minutes
A video course to guide you into creating a discipleship plan:
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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