November 29, 2012
By Phil Maynard
Although I have been a life-long United Methodist, one of my most formative experiences in the faith journey was the introduction to accountable discipleship. Drawing on the rich heritage of the Wesleyan Class meetings, the accountable discipleship helped me understand that being a disciple of Jesus Christ was not just about learning more about Jesus. It was about becoming like Jesus.
The center-point of accountable discipleship is a covenant that reflects a set of agreed upon behaviors that help the disciple move toward maturity. Most covenants included practices related to personal & corporate worship; the study of scripture; an active prayer life; the practice of spiritual disciplines; serving those in need; paying attention to the warnings/promptings of the Holy Spirit; and caring for our bodies and the world. It was all about behaviors. These behaviors were supported by classes which provided a deeper understanding, but discipleship was about transformation of lifestyle – not education.
Each week, as we met in an accountable discipleship group, we were accountable for our journey since the previous meeting, we reflected on our progress, talked about options for continued growth; considered our next steps, committed to a plan of action, and supported each other through prayer and encouragement.
While I still have a covenant partner, I have thought for some time that this form of accountable discipleship in the Church was a lost art. It seemed the world was changing too rapidly and the needs for growth were becoming too personalized.
Then I discovered coaching.
I think it is the accountable discipleship tool of the 21st century and it might just help the contemporary church do what it has struggled to do for decades…it’s mission: make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
In a discipleship coaching relationship, the Coach comes alongside or partners with a disciple to assist them in growing toward maturity. As part of the coaching conversation the coach and disciple make observations about where the disciple really is on the journey (current reality), sometimes using an assessment tool like the Discipleship Growth Survey. The coach listens deeply and asks powerful questions that help the disciple become clearer about what they want and how to get there. Together, they consider options for next steps and the disciple builds a plan for moving forward. At the next meeting the Coach will hold the disciple accountable for progress (although the disciple is really accountable to her/himself).
In a church-world where some don’t have any idea where to start on the journey toward maturity as a disciple; others have attended class after class with little or no significant change in lifestyle; and still others have attended classes all their lives and don’t know where to go next; the Discipleship Coaching tool provides a great resource for making mature disciples of Jesus Christ.
To learn more about Discipleship Coaching or to provide training for coaches in your ministry visit our store. Our next Discipleship Coaching training is scheduled for January 2013. Discover the resource that congregations all around the country are using to ‘make disciples for the transformation of the world”.