Category Archives: small groups

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?