Getting online discipleship done

Written by Keith Doornbos
July 27, 2020

Churches have an opportunity to disciple virtual guests if willing to invest in an online discipleship pathway. It’s time to get online discipleship done.

Nearly every congregation has non-members viewing their online worship services. Some are investigating faith from the safety of their living room. Churches have an opportunity to disciple these virtual guests if they’re willing to invest in an online discipleship pathway. It’s time to get online discipleship done.

Here are 7 steps for developing an online discipleship pathway: 

Step 1:  Name the goal

Begin by naming the goal of online discipleship.  D.L. Moody said “The Gospel has not been given for information but transformation.”  Whether in-person or on-line, discipleship is about developing passionate followers of Jesus Christ who are believing, self-feeding, maturing and reproducing.

Step 2:  Identify the elements

Four elements are particularly important in disciple-making: the presentation of the Gospel, an introduction to the Bible, teaching the disciplines of daily Scripture reading and prayer, and providing instruction in the life of Jesus following.  All four elements should be present in discipleship training.

Step 3: Find or create discipleship materials

A variety of discipleship materials are available online.  You may also want to check out the CCR’s 222 discipleship project or consider adapting an 8-session life-on-life discipleship process that is available here.  Consider developing your own video series that incorporates the four elements mentioned above.

Step 4: Identify and train navigators

Navigators provide information about discipleship materials, answer questions concerning the Christian life, and are available for prayer support.  They also check-in about progress being made. Navigators guide but they remember that most virtual guests want to keep an arm’s length from the Church.

Step 5: Make the invitation

When discipleship materials have been prepared and navigators found, invitations should be made. This happens during every online worship service, through various social media platforms and by posting information on your website.  Always provide simple and clear next-step instructions.

Step 6: Provide an immediate response

Immediacy is the expectation for online communications.  For example, when an online purchase is made   an email is immediately sent confirming the order.  The same should be true for online discipleship.  As soon as a request is received a note of response should be sent and a navigator assigned for follow-up.

Step 7: Build a bridge

As online discipleship continues an invitation to connect with a faith community should be made.  Most will want to keep their distance but some will respond to this opportunity for Christian fellowship.  Remember that online disciples may not live near you. Help them find a church in their neighborhood.

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