Online Cohorts

Turning Your Church into a Disciplemaking Mission

GDI Cohort Overview


Equip leaders in a mutually supportive and stimulating environment, who intend to turn churches and ministries into communities that fulfill the Great Commission’s imperative of making reproducing disciples of Jesus with particular focus on MicroGroups.

REQUIRED RESOURCES for Multiplying Multipliers:

Primary Texts

Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time (IVPress, 2016), Discipleship Essentials: A Guide to Building Your Life in Christ (IVPress, 2019) and Essential Guide to Becoming a Disciple (IVPress, 2016), Unfinished Business: Returning the Ministry to the People of God (Zondervan, 2003), all by Greg Ogden; Emotionally Healthy Discipleship (Zondervan, 2021) by Peter Scazzero.  

Recommended Texts

The Discipleship Gospel by Bill Hull and Ben Sobels; Insourcing by Randy Pope (Perimeter Church in Atlanta is one of the models of a disciplemaking church that we will examine in some depth); Leading Change by John Kotter; The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman; Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard; and The Jesus King Gospel by Scott McKnight.

Other Resources

Numerous articles, supplementary material will be posted per session on https://gdi.gele.io/. In addition, reference to

https://www.youtube.com/@GDIGregOgdenVideoStudio will be on related topics to our monthly assignments.

Curriculum Topics

Multiplying Multipliers

Turning Your Church or Ministry into a Disciplemaking Mission

Introductory Session

Focus: This is an opening opportunity to get acquainted with the cohort coach(es) and fellow cohort members, lay out expectations and agree to the covenant of commitment.

Session 1. The Goal of Disciplemaking: Transformation into Christlikeness/Process of Transformation: Vision, Intention, Means

Focus: We must first be a disciple before we can disciple others. In this session we examine the ongoing process of dying to self, conduct a self-assessment of where we are in the process, and personalize Dallas Willard’s Vision, Intention, and Means (VIM) Reliable Pattern of Transformation to our lives.

Session 2. Starting with the End in Mind

Focus: What does a disciplemaking church look like? In this lesson we take an in-depth look at a church that made the transition to become a disciplemaking mission.

Session 3. The Power of MicroGroups

Focus: The MicroGroup is environment in which disciples are being transformed and equipped to multiply disciples. In this Session we will clarify the core characteristics of a MicroGroup.

Session 4: Evaluating the Effectiveness of your Disciplemaking Mission

Focus: Assessing the effectiveness of your disciplemaking will internalize the need for specific changes and create motivation to improve. It will also provide the basis for developing a shared perspective among your leadership core.

Session 5: A Framework for Leading Change

Focus: The cohort process is about leading a church, ministry or movement to embrace a disciplemaking paradigm. This will require change. In this Session we will cover the components and steps in Navigator Bill Mowry’s change process and the application of John Kotter’s change concepts to the church transition journey.

Session 6: Relationship: Life Investment

Focus: Disciplemaking as modeled by Jesus is fundamentally an intimate, relational process. This differs from the usual programmatic approach that dominates church life. In this Session we explore how the MicroGroup maximizes this transformative relational setting.

Session 7: Multiplication: Through the Generations

Focus: The goal of disciplemaking is to see multi-generational reproduction of disciples by everyday followers of Jesus. While the one-on-one discipling dynamic does not create reproducing disciples, the MicroGroup does. In this Session you will determine where the MicroGroup fits into your church’s disciplemaking process?

Session 8: Transformation: The Four Necessary Ingredients

Focus: The “secret sauce” of a MicroGroup is that it creates an environment where four transformative elements can be maximized. When we…

(1) open our hearts in transparent trust to each other;

(2) around the truth of God’s word;

(3) in the spirit of life-change accountability;

(4) while engaged in our God-designed mission…we are in the Holy Spirit’s hothouse of transformation. Where is your MicroGroup with respect to these four elements?

Session 9: Emotionally Healthy Discipleship

Focus: In this Session you we will explore the major missing element of emotional health in the totality of what it means to be a Christlike follower of Jesus.

Session 10a: The Role of the MicroGroup Leader

Focus: The leader of a MicroGroup is equivalent to the driver. This person just might be the most important leader in the church because he/she is at the center of transformation and multiplication of disciples.

Session 10b: The Importance of Curriculum

Focus: The curriculum is at the center of the Reproducible Process because it is the map or the GPS that guides you to your destination. It contributes to the health of a church.

Session 11. Assessing the Challenges to Growing a Disciplemaking Movement in Your Church

Focus: In this Session we will examine dangers and barriers to effective disciplemaking within the church. Discussion will center on ways to address them.

Session 12: The Dependency vs Equipping Model of Disciplemaking

Focus: Why has the church been so slow in adopting the relational disciplemaking that is so evident in the model of our Lord Jesus and the apostle Paul? A part of the answer is that the church has been trapped in a dependency model that identifies ministry with “ordained or professional ministers.” For a disciplemaking model to flourish, an equipping model which sees ministry as the province of the laity must be reinstated.

Session 13: The Authority of Jesus

Focus: The Great Commission does not start with “go and make disciples…” but with the One who issues the command. Jesus establishes his authority before He lays out His directive.

Session 14: The Mission of the Church Part 1: Which is it: Make Christians or Disciples?

Focus: The fatal flaw in our gospel is that we

have told people that they can become Christians without being a disciple.

Session 15: The Mission of the Church

Part 2: What are the Characteristics of a Disciple?

Focus: Embedded within the Great Commission verses in Matthew 28:18-20 are three characteristics of a disciple. The main verb MAKE DISCIPLES is described by three participles (verbal adjective with an ing-ending) Disciples are marked by going, baptizing, and teaching obedience. This lesson goes into some depth about all three.

Session 16: Jesus’ Model of Making Disciples

Focus: Jesus made disciples through his relational, intimate, association with a select few. This should serve as a model for us as well.

Session 17: Paul’s Empowerment Model—Spiritual Parenting

Focus: We might conclude that the goal of disciplemaking is to bring people to maturity, in other words to become adults. That is true. But Paul’s goal was for people to become spiritual parents.

Session 18: Practical Steps to Forming a Disciplemaking Culture

Focus: A culture defines a way of life built upon values, customs, traditions and practices that shape the attitudes and behaviors­ of its participants. In this Session you will identify three key leverage points that could have the most impact in advancing a disciplemaking culture in your church or ministry.

Session 19: Becoming a Model Church: The 3-5 Year Plan of Transforming into a Disciplemaking Congregation/Ministry

Focus: The ultimate goal for each of our churches is that the Lord would allow to them to become a model church for others who would want to become a disciplemaking church. The first step toward this ultimate outcome is to become a disciplemaking church. In this last session you will create a three year strategy and plan that identifies the framework, processes, and phases that will move your church or ministry toward being one whose central purpose is to make disciples. The plan will build on the groundwork laid down during your two years within the cohort as we assume that the majority of churches require at least five years to implement and instill a disciplemaking culture.

GDI Cohort FAQs

What is a cohort anyway? Sounds a bit strange...

This is a term I was first introduced to when I (Greg Ogden) assumed the role as Director of the Doctor of Ministry program at Fuller Seminary. I confess it was new to me then. It is a term often used in an educational setting. A cohort program is “a group of people banded together or treated as a group” in a degree program or course of study. A simple way to view a cohort program is as “a group of classmates.”

Though this cohort is not connected to a degree program, you will be sharing life together with fellow “students,” in this case pastoral leaders, who have the common objective of leading their churches to become disciplemaking congregations. This means that we will “coach” each other. We will speak encouraging and comforting words, problem-solve together, and stimulate each other’s biblical and theological insights.

Leadership can be lonely. When we do this together, we are no longer alone.

What are we trying to accomplish?

In the total of these 2 years together, we will guide and coach participants as they:

• Evaluate the state of discipleship principal causes, within their church or ministry.

• Acquire a solid biblical and theological foundation for relational disciplemaking.

• Experience, practice and multiply a MicroGroup (2-3 others).

• Form a leadership change team made up of staff and key lay leaders.

• Formulate a vision with a three-year plan for becoming a church ministry whose central mission is to make reproducing disciples of Jesus.

Realizing that it takes a minimum of 3-5 years to change a church’s culture, the cohort experience will solidly launch your ministry in this direction.

Who is this program for?

We are looking for ministry leaders who strongly desire to lead their church or ministry to embrace a disciplemaking mission and who are in a position within their church or ministry to develop and implement a disciplemaking strategy and plan. This would include pastors, para-church leaders, missionaries, teachers, and professors who are focused on discipleship and disciplemaking.

How many people will be in our group?

The ideal size would be 4 (to include the convener) since we are trying to live out the value of MicroGroups. Limiting the group to 4 optimizes the opportunity for all participants to interactively make contributions as well as receive feedback. Our experience is that if we make it any larger, such as 6-8, there are too many people dividing up the available “air time."

Group dynamics suggest that in a group of 6-8 people, several would be largely silent while 2-3 would dominate. If we have 4, everyone tends to participate and feel needed and heard.

How often will we meet?

The regularity of meeting is both a form of accountability and encouragement. Therefore, a monthly online meeting of 2 hours via Zoom will need to be blocked. Since we most likely will be in different time zones and groups may have international participants, this time would need to be faithfully guarded once we have arrived at a regular time each month. Your 20-session cohort will stretch over 2 years with built-in seasonal breaks, for example, the months of July, August, and December.

How much does it cost?

The cohort fee is $100/session prepaid monthly. We suggest that your church or ministry leadership board contribute to the cost of the program as a sign of their commitment to becoming a disciplemaking church or organization. In addition, you will be asked to create a change-management team that will be made up of staff and key lay leaders. The more the church is invested financially and personally, the greater will be the benefits.

What will be expected of me?

You will be expected to complete monthly assignments which will include readings, response exercises, engagement with the church ministry leadership, and more. Continue leading a MicroGroup throughout your time in the cohort. Ideally, members of your MicroGroup will reproduce by initiating their own MicroGroups while you are collaboratively a member of the cohort.

What might be the dream goal?

We believe that the only way to grow a disciplemaking movement is through the creation of model churches.

What is a model church?

A model church is one whose identity is defined by being a disciplemaking congregation that has a vision and practice of being a training center for other congregations both nationally and internationally.

You will be introduced to the profile of a model church through specific examples of successful disciplemaking congregations as well as a checklist of discernible steps to take to become a model church.

Why such a long period of two years?

Leading change to a new model of ministry requires a sustained focus. Because the value of the cohort is that members provide ongoing accountability and encouragement, your investment in making disciples who make disciples is essential. In ministry, we find that being distracted and diverted by the immediate—such as the latest fire to be put out or program to adopt—we can easily lose our way.

Having partners who are striving for similar outcomes with whom we must check in regularly helps to keep us on track. In addition, this timeframe allows us to move far enough into implementing a MicroGroup-based disciplemaking strategy that we can see both the initial benefits and rewards as an outline for our future efforts.

What will be our curriculum?

The curriculum is presented via an online learning platform (https://gdi.gele.io/). Gele (pronounced "jelly") is an online, scalable mentoring and discipleship platform with built-in transparency and accountability, focused on making reproductive disciples that is user-friendly and highly interactive by design. As your cohort members work through content for the month, they are often prompted to reflect on and respond to readings and other forms of content such as video presentations.

Responses are viewed only by your group and often responded to by other members of the cohort as well as the cohort’s mentor/coach. This results in a much richer experience as members are stimulated, encouraged, and supported throughout the period leading up to the monthly Zoom meeting. Curriculum topics and sequencing are available in a separate file.

For more information about GDI Cohorts contact Dan Dominguez, dan@globaldi.org.


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