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July 21, 2016

Organic and Intentional Discipleship

By Daniel Im

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

Classic Discipleship

As I was growing up I remember watching movies like Back to the Future. Now, don’t judge me, but I see movies like that one as classics. The thing about classics is that it’s hard—if not near impossible—to improve them. That’s why I don’t know how Disney will pull off a remake of the classic movie Mary Poppins in late 2018.

Recently, Ed and I chatted with Dr. Robert Coleman, Distinguished Professor of Discipleship and Evangelism at Gordon Conwell and the author of over 20 books including the classic,The Master Plan of Evangelism. During our conversation, the term that kept coming to mind was “classic.” For starters, the Webinar itself was a classic. If you’re not a Plus Member, this Webinar is so worth the price of the membership. Dr. Coleman’s passion for discipleship is not only evident, it’s contagious.

In our Webinar, Dr. Coleman provided us with a couple of things that were classic—that would be hard to improve. He provided us with a classic model of discipleship and a classic mode of discipleship.

Classic Model of Discipleship

During our interview Dr. Coleman shared some of his story. He shared how he had no formal training in evangelism or discipleship when he began teaching at Asbury. Thus, he started with the person he believed to be the expert on the subject: Jesus. With the desire to learn from and replicate Jesus’ life and ministry, Dr. Coleman went to the Gospels. From his encounter with Jesus throughout the Gospels, The Master Plan of Evangelism was birthed. As Dr. Coleman would attest, it’s hard to improve on the model of discipleship as seen in the life of Jesus.

Interestingly, according to Dr. Coleman, it seems many churches are misguided about discipleship. Many times churches are seen trying to organize and systematize discipleship with an emphasis on gathering multitudes of people. But merely gathering people together and calling them to a decision isn’t sufficient. We must go beyond the decision making to disciple making.

When we think about the model of discipleship exemplified in the life of Jesus, Jesus started with a few that multiplied into the multitude. This is quite different from the way many churches go about discipleship today. They attempt to reach the multitudes—inviting and gathering them into corporate worship environments—and then from the multitudes they try huddling them into discipleship groups. In other words, the multiplicity of disciples has typically been achieved through corporate worship environments rather than through disciples who make disciples. Dr. Coleman wouldn’t see this inversion as a bad thing per se, but if it (discipleship) became a boxed program for people to attend and not a lifestyle for people to enact it would become something Jesus never intended it to become.

To read the remainder of the post on Dr. Coleman’s Webinar on evangelism and discipleship, and to listen to the Webinar in its entirety—click here for the full video and 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.


Tweetables: Classic One-Liners on Discipleship

  • The Great Commission isn’t a special call; it’s a command. Robert Coleman
  • Discipleship is an ongoing process for every Christian. Robert Coleman
  • Discipleship is a lifestyle, not a program. Robert Coleman
  • The church has a difficulty with discipleship because they haven’t seen it lived out before their eyes. Robert Coleman
  • If any activity we engage in doesn’t lead to our destiny (Christ-likeness), it is an exercise in futility. Robert Coleman
  • When churches commit to discipleship, they are alive and move in the power of the Holy Spirit. Robert Coleman
  • Relationship is the vehicle for discipleship—for followership. Robert Coleman
  • Jesus will always be the greatest model for our discipleship and relationships will always be the best vehicle to facilitate discipleship.


Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Director of Church Multiplication for NewChurches.com at LifeWay Christian Resources. He is a Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship, a multisite church in Nashville. He is the author of No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry, and co-author of Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply (2nd ed) with Ed Stetzer. He also co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, the 5 Leadership Questions Podcast, and a brand new podcast with his wife on marriage and parenting called 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. Visit Danielim.com to learn more.


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