Discipleship has always been a challenge for the church. How do you effectively define discipleship? What does a healthy disciple look like? How can you measure progress? But today in a COVID-19 world, the existing approaches to discipleship have come under even greater pressure. The traditional ways that we used to evaluate discipleship are no longer available! We used to look at church attendance, volunteer involvement, small group participation, Sunday school size, or possibly even financial support levels to the ministry.
I want to introduce you to the Discipleship Dynamics Assessments (DDA™). This confidential online discipleship tool presents the disciple with a model of discipleship that challenges growth in 5 different Dimensions. It is not a curriculum but lends itself to developing a unique discipleship intervention for each disciple. The Assessment takes about 40 minutes to complete. The Assessment has excellent reliability and validity support (Cronbach alpha exceeds .700 on almost all the Outcomes). The results are immediately calculated and provide a personalized, 13-page report to each disciple on 35 Biblically based discipleship outcomes.
Use the DDA™ in Supervision or Spiritual Direction
If the disciple chooses to share his/her Outcomes with their mentor or spiritual director, it provides them the opportunity to zero in on specific discipleship growth points that need to be brought under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The Assessment evaluates Spiritual dimensions, Character issues, Relationship outcomes, Vocational Clarity and Economics and Work issues (a total of 5 Dimensions). When the mentoring process of the counselor is complete, the program allows the disciple to take a second assessment free of charge. The second assessment can indicate areas of growth, areas of possible decline, and areas where the Disciple has excelled.
Using the DDA™ in group context
One of the more exciting opportunities presented by the DDA, is using the assessment in a group context. In an environment where online mentoring is now the common way of doing discipleship, this is a huge benefit. To do an online group discipleship process, the leader registers members of the group and invites them to take the Assessment online. While individual responses and scores remain confidential, the group leader receives a summary of the average scores of all group members on all 35 outcomes. By addressing average scores of the group, both the strongest scores and the weakest scores, group discussion can be focused and relevant. Individuals will have their personal scores in hand as they compare their response to the average group scores.
The Group Leader’s Dashboard with the average scores is guaranteed to produce fruitful discussion and open communication about the areas where the group needs the guidance of the Holy Spirit. For planning purposes, the group leader can prepare to address one outcome per week for six weeks (or more). Alternatively, each of the 5 overall Dimensions can be discussed collectively over a period of five weeks.
What are the benefits of using the DDA™ for group discipleship? First the sessions can be designed around real outcome results from group members. This ensures that the curriculum for the Bible study or discipleship group is tailor designed for that specific group. Secondly, individual results remain anonymous while the group leader has access to the average scores of the entire group. Thirdly, progress can be measured after a period because group members will be allowed to do a second free assessment. At that point, the group leader will again receive the average scores of the entire group and will be able to compare and contrast growth, declines, or any other changes that a comparison of the scores reveal. Should the group decide to do so, a few more weeks of online discussion on the differences could prove very valuable to ensure growth and spiritual maturity
Using the DDA™ to Plan Targeted Sermon Series and Focus Groups
When the pastoral team obtains access to average scores from the congregation, they have access to a very valuable resource. They are able diagnose where the congregation is at on their spiritual journey with a reasonable sense of accuracy. Based on this information they can design sermon series, plan special focused groups, invite special speakers, and generally serve the people of God where they are experiencing their greatest need.