The are many different types of formulas and paradigms and charts to describe the discipleship process. I’m not sure one is better than another. The question truly is, do they work?
In his book “The Explicit Gospel” Matt Chandler describes two different discipleship models: organic discipleship and mechanical discipleship. Essentially organic discipleship is where people meet usually in a small group setting i.e. home groups or Sunday School classes, where they are encouraged to study together, pray together and develop relationships naturally while they study through Scripture and are matured in an organic atmosphere.
Mechanical discipleship is a more stringent and developed plan of discipleship that usually involves steps a person takes through a variety of courses or classes designed to give them the knowledge to mature as Christians. There will be a teacher, notes and notebooks and stages to move to.
But the questions remains, which one is best? I’m not sure if you can answer that question. It may very well be a questions of relativity based upon your congregation, your culture, and even the pastor/teacher’s gifts and talents in relaying the information.
Thus, I present to you: the funnel. Now, I know the funnel is not originally my idea. Goodness knows everyone has seen the funnel concept and I’m not even sure who I originally got the idea from. So, to whoever out there who first thought of the funnel concept, thank you.
Here is the basic idea of my take of the funnel: Our church’s discipleship plan is much like a funnel, you start outside the funnel, and then move your way down through the funnel until you are on the outside again. Sounds confusing, yeah? It really isn’t.
Each one of us has started outside the tunnel of discipleship. We were there when we were unregenerate and we were more than likely there as a baby Christian with absolutely no idea what to do next. We then get introduced to the funnel via some sort of front door into either a church, para-church ministry or some other form of community discipleship process. Once we are in the funnel we travel through the funnel reaching specific growth points in our spiritual discipleship journey. For us we have three specific points of contact. Once you have cycled through you are now on the outside again, except now you are not without discipleship or learning, but you are well on your way to spiritual maturity and are now ready to pour your life into someone who needs to go through the journey for the first time.
Next time I will begin with the first step of my funnel discipleship theory. We will discuss what it takes to get the non-funnelites to become full-fledged funnelites.