“Making Healthy Disciples” A Guide for Leaders

Dear fellow-leader,

We have unprecedented resources for spiritual and personal growth, yet the challenges are still daunting: hurting people, broken families, and people struggling to connect our faith to daily life. All of us as leaders desire maturity, stability, wholeness, and a sense of purpose in our fellow believers.

The Discipleship Dynamics Assessment (DDA)™ offers a new vision and process for disciple-making by focusing on OUTCOMES and seeing the Christian life as DIMENSIONAL rather than a linear process of classes or programs.

In addition to offering a 12-page personal report to all participants, the DDA offers the leader a DASHBOARD of the average group results, while all personal results remain confidential. When the leader buys a certain number of assessments and invites people to participate, the dashboard is filled with important data as people complete their surveys. This includes average summary scores in the Five Dimensions AND average group scores in each of the 35 Outcomes. Here is an example from one local church with about 150 in attendance:

  • Spiritual Formation: 57%
  • Personal Wholeness: 62%
  • Healthy Relationships: 54%
  • Vocational Clarity: 67%
  • Economics and Work: 72%

The Pastor noticed that spiritual formation, and especially the outcome of hearing God’s voice (one of the Outcomes in Spiritual Formation), could improve, so he integrated this insight into his preaching and small groups. In just a year, scores improved, and people felt that the messages and small groups were connecting. The pastor told his folks: “I rely on the Holy Spirit and trust the Word, but you really helped me with your participation – God used your Assessments to help me serve you better.”

We will explore how to connect discipleship and this new resource with the ethos (mission, vision, and values) of your church or organization so everyone has a sense of growing together!


Making Healthy Disciples as a New Normal

Today’s crises offer an opportunity to recalibrate our discipleship and mission. Too often we mistake activity for fruitfulness, proximity for relationships, and meetings for progress. What if we can measure our progress and commission and equip all of God’s people as Kingdom assets in all their daily activities?


The Revolution: OUTCOMES before Programs!

God is on a mission through Jesus Christ – to reconcile, renew, and restore all of creation (Ephesians 1:10; Colossians 1:15-22; Revelation 21-22). God created humankind to enjoy His presence and fulfill His purpose. And God has invited us to join Him in this mission (2 Corinthians 5:14-6:2). We discover that this cosmic redemption of heaven and earth includes:

  • The Great Commission to make disciples of all nations Matthew 28:18-20 (Mark 16:15; Luke 24:45-49; John 20:19-23; Acts 1:8);
  • These disciples are called to lives shaped by the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-40; I John 2-4);
  • And we receive the help and strength we need through Jesus’ Great Invitation that summons us to intimacy and partnership (Matthew 11:28-30).

Hebrews 13:7: “Consider the outcome…” The Bible focuses on fruitfulness, not just activity; on building character, competencies and capacity so that we bear “much fruit.” (John 15)


What does a healthy disciple look like?

Connecting with divine expectations, we discover that there are FIVE DIMENSIONS in developing a whole person (who will join the whole church in taking the whole gospel to the whole world).

1. Loving God = spiritual formation: Intimacy with the Lord and integrating community engagement and spiritual disciplines.

2. Self-respect (the “love…as yourself” dimension) = personal wholeness: This includes managing emotional history and cultivating hope, sexual purity and sanity, and appreciating our gifts.

3. Loving our neighbor = healthy relationships: Avoiding anxiety, enhancing hope, and loving others as we manage the temptations of money, power, and sexuality.

But wait…two more dimensions!

4. Vocational Clarity= God’s calling(s): Learning our natural and spiritual gifts and seeing a sense of purpose and service that transcends our current jobs or tasks.

5. And all this takes place…in the world of economics and work: This is God’s “frontline” for every believer – where we spend most of our waking hours. Becoming a greater asset where we work, caring for God’s world, and stewarding all our assets well for God’s glory are all part of WHOLE LIFE DISCIPLESHIP.

And spiritual leaders are the “CLOs”

(Chief Learning, Listening, and Landscaping Officers!)

Spiritual leaders create language that shapes the theology, worldview, and expectations of their communities.


First Steps to Transformation

Assuming that the church/organization is hospitable and integrating new constituents, here are the practical steps that will transform the disciple-making process and integrate the Discipleship Dynamics Assessment™ (DDA) into the life of the church/organization:

  • Examine the DNA (or “ethos” or “culture”) of your church: your mission, vision, and value statements.
  • Create OUTCOMES that connect real life with the key ideas that God has given that define your identity and mission. For example, if one of your goals is reaching out to the community, then two OUTCOMES would be “that every member can share the gospel wisely” and that they “care for the marginalized“. If one of your values is spiritual maturity, then define this in ways that are understandable and measurable as a Discipleship Outcome – “pray without ceasing”, “love the Word of God”, “pursue Biblical principles for living”.
  • Connect the ethos of your church or organization with the Outcomes of the Discipleship Dynamics Assessment (DDA)™. (Our team will be available to help, if that is needed)
  • Have your leadership teams take the DDA and use your Dashboard Scores (group averages) and enjoy a robust conversation on the best ways to engage the congregation.
  • Prepare a plan so that an adequate percentage of members take the DDA and plan for an annual retake (each individual can take their Assessment a second time for free). The Assessment is best done with at least a 9-12-month period for learning in between…and you will see real progress if you have been intentional about your work.

Here are some guidelines on how choose a representative sample of people from the congregation to provide you with an accurate picture of the Discipleship status of the entire group.

  • We recommend the highest possible percentage of participants from the congregation to be part of your sample.  This will increase the accuracy and quality of your feedback and reduce the margin of error
  • The more people you involve, the more members will have access to their own personal results!
  • You will want to choose a representative number of persons in each of your congregation’s age, gender, culture, and/or race groups.  In other words, if 60% of your congregation is over the age of 50, then 60% of your sample group should also be over the age of 50.
  • Here are some guidelines for minimal participation.  For a church or organization with the number of members in the first column, the participants should be the number in the second column:

50 adults: 40 participants are needed
100: 60 are needed
200: 100 are needed
300: 120 are needed
400: 140 are needed
500: 150 are needed
800: 165 are needed
1000: 175 are needed
5000: 200 are needed


Some guidelines as you implement this strategy

Avoid the sacred/secular divide (SSD): Affirm a deep connection between worship and work, devotion and service! All good work is pleasing to God. The Five Dimensions and 35 Outcomes reinforce that all believers are called to work in the Kingdom, they all have the Holy Spirit and they are all divinely placed by God in their daily situations.

Share a sermon series or series of seminars/learning experiences that offer a fresh vision of outcome-based discipleship, affirming that the DDA is NOT a spiritual report card, but a snapshot of self-understanding!

After you obtain your Dashboard results make sure to share both the strengths and areas for improvement with the leadership and the congregation.  Invite those stronger in some Outcomes (scores in the 60s and above) to be ready to help others.

  • Be ready to respond to concerns, questions, and surprises! And note that the scoring is 0-100, with most people having scores from the 40s to the 60’s. This is NOT an academic score, like papers in college! Even seasoned leaders will have scores that reflect areas of growth. Here is a summary of the score breakdowns used in the Assessment:
      • 0-20: this is a new area or one of real struggle for this disciple
      • 21-40: this is an area where development is in its beginning stages and need to be nurtured
      • 41-60: this score indicates the disciples is neither proficient nor significantly deficient in this Outcome but they tend to recognize that they are in a struggle with it
      • 61-80: this score indicates the disciples has a relatively firm grip on this Outcome while they still indicate that they have room to grow in this area
      • 81-100: the disciple is mature here and can help others
  • Take time to survey members and find out areas of expertise and experience, passion and placement, giftings and desires.  The DDA can provide powerful personal
  • Develop new resources for a new culture of empowerment: website, book table, small groups, classes (virtual and live), and other creative ideas that can inform everyone on aspects of the 35 Outcomes.
  • God’s people are MORE capable that we give them credit for.

This is a revolution in discipleship – seeing life as dimensional and channeling all our resources toward biblical Outcomes.