Transformational Discipleship

We have a cosmetology academy here in Federal Way. The school is packed with mostly young,  hopeful stylists. They provide haircuts for just $12.95. While I was there last week I watched the familiar dance that the students have to perform for their instructors. Each step is monitored and approved before moving on to the next. The students chart your haircut and get that approved. They wash and cut your hair and the instructor reviews their work – often taking a few extra snips here and there – while the student explains what they did, which products they used, and future steps they recommended to the client. I began to wonder: is there anything like this in the church? Is this what discipleship is supposed to look like?

Imagine if you walked into a barbershop and met a new stylist. She had just finished a 9-mo course to learn to cut hair. She had spent hours reading the industry-standard guidebook for cutting hair – often reading a chapter or two everyday. She had even committed portions of the book to memory! There had been weekly classes with her instructors – sometimes in smaller groups and other times in very large groups. She had completed the required number of written exams. There had been a few practice sessions cutting hair with fellow students but they used fake scissors – not actually cutting anyone’s hair. And now here she is – fresh out of school – cutting real hair (your hair!) for the very first time!

Sadly, that sounds like the way we do discipleship most often. Over the years I have conducted countless hours of classroom training for people. Training that I want to be transformational. But is the classroom model that effective? We know there are better methods. So why don’t we use them? Is it too hard to coach people so that they learn while doing? Is it too expensive to take people on field trips (mission trips) that immerse them in a setting where they will be stretched? Or are we just stuck in a methodology that we were trained in and our teachers before us were trained in, too?

What have you done specifically to make discipleship transformational?

4 thoughts on “Transformational Discipleship

  1. secondchair Post author

    Very cool. That’s what I’m talking about! Classroom has it place but too often we attempt to do all ministry in this one model. I know I’ve handed guys a book while inviting them to a discipleship study and watched them literally break out in a sweat at the thought of reading a single book and writing down answers to questions! That model does not work for everyone.

  2. secondchair Post author

    Dan, thanks for this personal example. I just mentioned Ernie’s name to my sr pastor the other day and hadn’t thought of him in years! Glad that their investment in your life has been so transformational.

  3. Adam

    For the past few weeks I have implemented a discipleship process for men in my church. The format of it takes place in “community” groups that foster an environment where men get real then are challenged. Our last meeting was done at the beach around a Bon fire. The level of fellowship and take away has been epic.
    Here is a post that simplifies our mission:

  4. Dan Larson

    Great example and very concisely stated! I believe this is a message and approach that has long needed advocacy. In fact it is precisely how I ended up on the mission field. After having received this type of hands on mentoring from Erny Malakoff and Dana Hofseth, I became committed to doing the same with the high school group. We studied and then we sought ways to live out what we read. It does take extra time and effort, as telling others to now go and do it is not nearly as effective as going along and doing, while little by little handing over the reins. It was during this process that included short term missions trips, that I realized that I did not have personal experience in overseas, cross cultural missions. We went to the Philippines on a two year commitment with the intent to return better equipped to disciple our youth in the transformational way you describe. As you know, God used it to transform our outlook on how He wanted to use us – at Faith Academy. I don’t know how well I have accomplished transformational discipleship, but I do know how it has transformed me.

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