Can you be a disciplemaker without being a disciple?

The short answer is no. If the branch is disconnected from the Vine, there is no power. You cannot give what you first do not have. You cannot teach what you first do not know. Because a disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ, at the core of your life, your behavior reflects what you believe. As a result, words are not enough. Calling yourself a Christian and not becoming a new creation is the same as a Christian in name only—a nominal label, not a saving faith.

What does GRITS mean?

  • G - God-designed
  • R - Relational
  •  I -  Intentional
  • T - Transformational
  • S - Spirit-led

How do you turn your church into a disciplemaking church?

No, it does not start with a "discipleship class" or checklist. Instead, the focus is on building relationships with accountability and intentionality.

First recognize that the process is not fast. Start small. Go slow. Go deep. 

Prayer is the foundation. Transforming Discipleship may help you to identify options and give you a process. 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.

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 a cohort?

In the total of these two 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 (3-4 others).
  • Form a leadership change team composed of staff and key 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, parachurch leaders, missionaries, and teachers/professors who are focused on discipleship and disciplemaking. Submit your Cohort Application.

How many people will be in our cohort group?

The ideal size would be 4 since we are trying experientially 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. If we make it any larger, such as 6-8, there are too many people to substantially contribute.

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 (or Google Meet) will need to be set aside in your schedule for this. 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 17-session cohort will stretch over 2 years with built-in seasonal breaks in 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/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 in a cohort?

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 MicroGroup (a second generation for the first generation group that God led you to initiate) while you are collaboratively a member of the cohort.

What is a model church?

We believe that the only way to grow a disciplemaking movement is through the creation of model churches as a goal. A model church is one whose identity is defined by being a disciplemaking congregation that has a vision and practice of being an equipping 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 for a cohort?

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 strategy for disciplemaking that we can see both the initial benefits and rewards as an outline for our future efforts.

What will be our cohort curriculum?

The curriculum is presented via an online learning platform ( Gele is an online, scalable mentoring/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 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.


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