Online Discipleship during COVID-19

Discipleship has always been a challenge for the church.  We have traditionally been excellent at gathering people together, at delivering anointed preaching, and producing amazing worship experiences.  We do prayer meetings and small groups and invest in Sunday School programs, all as organizational strategies to somehow produce disciples.  After all, making disciples was the “prime directive” that Jesus left for us (with humble apologies to my Trekkie friends!).  Jesus said He would build His church; our task was to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).

COVID-19 has severely disrupted our organizational strategies.  But even if they had been highly successful in producing mature disciples who understand the ways of the Lord, we will not be able to utilize them for the foreseeable future.

At Discipleship Dynamics we have developed a revolutionary discipleship tool that does not need large crowds, or expensive facilities to assist the body of Christ to fulfill the task of making disciples.  It makes it possible for an individual to do an online, personalized, self-assessment of five dimensions of discipleship.  It goes beyond just analyzing Spiritual Outcomes, it also probes their relationships with others, the status of their emotional health, and to what extent they have a clear sense of God’s calling in their lives.  It also bridges the traditional divide between Sunday and Monday by helping them to understand God’s expectations of them in their work and in their community.

The Discipleship Dynamics Assessment (DDA) is an online questionnaire that produces a 13 to 15 page personalized report for them to prayerfully consider as they analyze their successes on the road toward biblical discipleship,  and highlights the areas that need Holy Spirit empowered attention. This is the first time that such a tool has been made available to the Body of Christ.  It is holistic (focusing on Five Dimensions) and instead of defining discipleship in terms of things to know, it redefines discipleship in terms of 35 outcomes.  It begins to answer the question, “what specific changes in my life is the Holy Spirit busy working on?”  What are the outcomes (the fruit) that His empowerment is attempting to produce in my life?  How am I doing in the area of forgiveness?  How clear is my sense of calling from the Lord?  What about my sexuality, or my Christian responsibility to show hospitality?  To what extent does my faith carry over into my ethics in the workplace?

We often have regular physical check-ups with our doctors to monitor our physical health.  The DDA is the discipleship equivalent of a regular physical check-up.  After receiving my Report, I have the opportunity to attend to the issues that I have identified that need growth through the grace of God.  Then, after a period of time, I can return to the Assessment, and do a free second Assessment to monitor my growth and progress.

It is this test-retest capacity of the DDA that makes it such a revolutionary tool for online discipleship.  I can discuss my results online with a mentor, a spiritual leader, or a counselor as they walk through the issues with me.  After a period of spiritual growth, I can retest and monitor my progress.

But one of the most exciting aspects of the DDA is using it in group context.  A leader can register a group online and invite any number of people to “join their group”.  While they do not have access to the confidential, personal scores of their group members, they are provided a group Dashboard that records the average group scores for the whole group.  Online discussion can then focus on the lowest average scores of the group while individual members can compare their personal scores with the group averages.  This ensures that discipleship interventions by the group leader are targeted and dynamic as the group seeks God’s guidance together for their discipleship journey.

Discipleship has always been a challenge.  COVID-19 has made it even more difficult.  But the DDA has a revolutionary, online resource available for the Church so that we can fulfill the “prime objective” of the Kingdom of God: “Make disciples of all the nations!”.

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