Most church leaders know they need a discipleship plan for new members, but it’s not easy to come up with a comprehensive plan from scratch. That’s where a tool like the Discipleship Handbook can help. Each of the following keys to a successful discipleship ministry have been incorporated into the Discipleship Handbook:
1) Establish a mentor—Discipleship cannot be accomplished by merely handing a book to a new member. The Discipleship Handbook contains an appendix called “The Discipleship Plan,” which outlines a process that begins with pairing a mentor with each new member. Simple one-page weekly outlines guide mentors through the important process of integrating new members into the church.
2) Invest personal time—One of Jesus’ keys to successful discipleship was the time He invested in His disciples. This critical key is built into the Discipleship Handbook. The heart of the plan is a weekly meeting between mentors and new members to review one chapter of the book together. New members could read it by themselves, but the regular meeting provides the personal elements of friendship and guidance so important to their growth. In addition, simple activities are incorporated into the plan to engage new members in worship, ministry, and fellowship with other members of the church family.
3) Develop spiritual habits—One of the special features of the Discipleship Handbook is an appendix containing a correlated Bible and Spirit of Prophecy reading plan. Most of the daily 15-20 minute reading assignments include a Bible passage and a passage in the writings of Ellen G. White on the same topic. The books Patriarchs and Prophets, Prophets and Kings, The Desire of Ages, The Acts of the Apostles, The Great Controversy, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, Christ’s Object Lessons, and Steps to Christ are included in their entirety in the correlated reading plan. In each weekly meeting, time is given for both mentors and new members to share one insight each from their previous week’s devotional reading. Thus daily prayer and Bible study is encouraged. In addition, faithful attendance at Sabbath School, church, and prayer meeting or small group Bible study, as well as regular involvement in personal witnessing and church ministries, are also emphasized.
4) Provide ongoing instruction—Each chapter provides new members with practical and Bible-based instruction to help them in their Christian journey. They will learn the ultimate aim of discipleship, the importance of reading the Bible for spiritual life, the biblical basis for Ellen White’s prophetic authority in the remnant church, and practical guidance on how to have personal prayer and family worship. They will learn about the prophetic rise and mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and discover that every disciple is called to be a witness for Christ. They will receive helpful instruction about the important services, ordinances, organization, history, and mission focus of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. And they will read chapters about biblical lifestyle in areas such as Sabbath observance, reverence, stewardship, health, modesty, entertainment, and marriage and family.
5) Train for soul-winning service—The last five chapters of the Discipleship Handbook provide practical training in the cycle of evangelism. They share how to prepare the soil of the heart with friendship and service, how to plant the seed of God’s Word with spiritual conversations and literature, how to cultivate spiritual interest by giving Bible studies, how to lead people to make the decisions to follow Christ and be baptized, and how to preserve and equip new members with discipleship training. In each area, practical ideas are given and the mentor is encouraged to involve the new member in a hands-on experience.
The Discipleship Handbook is a comprehensive, easy to use, six-month discipleship plan. No need to come up with weekly content for discipleship instruction. No need to download files from the Internet. No need to go through hours of training. And because the plan outlined in the Discipleship Handbook can be implemented immediately, there’s no need for even one more newly baptized member to be left alone after baptism with no clear guidance or discipleship training.
So let’s heed the voice of Jesus, and go make disciples!
This article is provided by the Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department of the General Conference of Seventhday Adventists.