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July 28, 2016

The “Sweet-Spot” of Discipleship

By Daniel Im

Every month, Plus Members get video enhanced training from Ministry Grid on topics like leadership, ministry systems, residencies, multiplication, church planting, and multisite. This month, Eric Geiger, Michael Kelley, and Philip Nation discuss transformational discipleship. 

*Plus Members can watch this entire segment by logging in and clicking here.

The “Sweet-Spot” of Discipleship

For those of you that don’t know, I’m an avid golfer and an overall fan of the game of golf. Recently The Open Championship was played at Royal Troon in Troon, Scotland. It was a phenomenal tournament to watch, especially Round 4. In Round 4, Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson went head-to-head in one of the most epic rounds in all of golf history. Mickelson shot six-under that day, finishing with a total score of -17; and Stenson shot eight-under, finishing with a total score of -20. The closest competitor finished at 6-under par!

People were amazed at the play of both Stenson and Mickelson, especially in the conditions they faced. Many people understand that in order to play well at a links course—in windy, damp, and rainy conditions—golfers must hit the ball in the sweet-spot. Each golf club has a sweet-spot so that when the golfer swings and connects the sweet-spot with the ball, the club and ball come together to maximize the force, impact, and distance of the ball. Hitting the ball in the sweet-spot helps the ball pierce through the wind and keep it on track.

What Discipleship Isn’t

For many years, whether intentionally or unintentionally, discipleship was propelled by information. In other words, churches had Sunday School, corporate worship, Discipleship Training Union, and Wednesday night Bible studies and prayer meetings. Such elements were more of the corporate programming of the church, which didn’t include other independent studies people participated in.

In addition, it seems that an element of discipleship in Christendom (a period where the church was the center point of culture and society) focused a lot on the do’s and don’ts of Christianity. Christians do go to church, attend Sunday School, give a tithe, go on a mission trip, and tell others about Jesus. And the other hand, Christians don’t cuss, play cards, dance, wear immodest clothes, play sports on Wednesday evenings or Sundays, watch certain kinds of movies, drink certain kinds of drinks, go to certain kinds of places, etc.

It’s not that Bible studies or teaching believers proper Christian behavior is bad. But over the course of the last decade or so, many church leaders have come to the conclusion that dousing believers with a plethora of Bible studies along with the dos and don’ts of Christianity doesn’t lead to true discipleship. Thus, as Geiger, Kelley, and Nation discuss, discipleship is not information nor behavioral modification.

What Discipleship Is

The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). Mankind has a heart-disease called sin. This heart disease has infected and damaged the imago Dei (image of God) in every person. Instead of reflecting the radiant glory of God (His characteristics and attributes), men and women reflect the characteristics and attributes of a depraved heart.

Understanding that men and women have heart issues, God, through the prophet Jeremiah, communicated that the New Covenant (brought about by Christ) would rectify this problem. Jeremiah 31:33 states, “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days…I will put My teaching within them and write it on their hearts” (HCSB). In this same vein, God, through the prophet Ezekiel communicates this about the New Covenant, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place My Spirit within you and cause you to follow My statutes and carefully observe My ordinances” (Ezek. 36:26–27 HCSB).

Because the New Covenant focuses on a heart transplant—whereby God gives mankind His heart—discipleship, then, is a transformation (and heart) issue. As Geiger puts it, “We must aggressively go after the hearts of people.” And thus the goal of discipleship is the conforming and forging of men and women’s hearts into the image of Jesus (see Rom. 8:29; Col. 3:10).

To read the final point of “How Discipleship is Maximized,” click here for the full video, accompanying handouts, and the post.

This video is part of Plus Membership, so to get full access to it, and much more, I encourage you to become a Plus Member. Click here to see all the benefits of becoming a Plus Member. Also Plus Members, you can watch Session 2–4 here for free.


  • Discipleship is not information.
  • Discipleship is not behavior modification.
  • The ultimate goal of discipleship is transformation.
  • Discipleship, defined, is the process of leading people to be conformed into the image of Christ.
  • To effectively disciple, churches and leaders must aggressively go after the hearts of people.
  • The transformational discipleship sweet-spot consists of TRUTH, POSTURE, AND LEADERS.
  • Inclining hearts to Scripture, in a posture of vulnerability & under sound leadership, position ppl for effective discipleship.
  • Leaders need to have an objective view about how discipleship is happening in their church.
  • God is the agent of transformation, just as He is the agent of salvation.



Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Senior Associate Pastor of Beulah Alliance Church, a multiplying multisite church focused on reaching 1% of Edmonton for Christ. His latest book is You Are What You Do: And Six Other Lies about Work, Life, and Love. He is also the author of No Silver Bullets and co-author of Planting Missional Churches. He co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, as well as the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Because of their love for the local church, after pioneering and leading the church multiplication initiative for LifeWay, Daniel and his wife, Christina, moved back to Canada with their three children. For more information, visit danielim.com and follow him on social media @danielsangi.


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