Turning Your Church into a Disciple-Making Mission
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 disciple-making 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.
Who is this program for?
We are looking for ministry leaders who are a position in their churches or ministries to actually implement a disciple-making strategy. This would include pastors, para-church leaders, missionaries, and perhaps even teachers/professors who are focused on discipleship and disciple-making as their focus. Application
How many people will be in our group?
The ideal size would be four since we are trying to live out the value of micro groups. In order to be able to make our contributions as well as receive feedback with the optimal interactive capacity, four optimizes this opportunity. Our experience is that if you make it any larger, such as 6-8, there are just too many people dividing up the available “air time." Group dynamics being what it is with 6-8 people, this would mean that 2 to 3 people will be largely silent or 2-3 people will dominate. If we have four everyone will 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 meeting online for two hours will need to be blocked out. Since we will probably be in different time zones and could have international participants, once we have arrived at a regular time each month, this time would need to be “religiously” guarded. Your 18-session cohort will stretch over 2 years with built-in seasonal breaks.
How much does it cost?
The cohort fee will be $100/session pre-paid monthly. It is strongly suggested that your church leadership board contribute to the cost of program as a sign of their commitment to becoming a disciple-making church. In addition, you will be asked to create a change 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. Space is limited to 2 groups of 4 per cohort.
What will be expected of me or how much time will this take?
You will be expected to complete the monthly assignments which will include readings, response exercises, engagement with the church leadership, etc. Running throughout the time, you will form and lead a “micro group” that meets weekly to the point where the members will reproduce and create their own groups and thus multiply disciple-makers.
What are we trying to accomplish?
In the 2 years together, we will be able to lay solid biblical and theological foundations for disciple-making, experience, practice and multiply the basic disciple-making unit of a micro group, form a leadership change team made up of staff and key lay leaders, and formulate a vision and plan for becoming a disciple-making church. Realizing that it takes a minimum of 3-5 years to change a church’s culture, this process will launch you in this direction.
What might be the dream goal?
GDI believes that the only way to grow a disciple-making 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 disciple-making 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 disciple-making congregations as well as a checklist of discernible steps that 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. The value of the cohort is to provide accountability and encouragement. In ministry, it is so easy to be diverted by the immediate, such as the latest fire to be put out or program to adopt, that we can easily lose our way. Having partners who are striving for similar outcomes with whom we must check in regularly keeps us on track. In addition, this timeframe allows us to get enough into implementing a disciple-making strategy that we can see both the initial benefits and rewards with an outline for our future efforts.
What will be our curriculum?
Every participant will receive a written syllabus/workbook that contains assignments for each month, reading material, and interactive response sheets to be completed in preparation for the monthly session.