STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS – Invite other people into the journey to create sustainability as a Disciple Coach

STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS – Invite other people into the journey to create sustainability as a Disciple Coach

One of the things I’ve observed over the last 30+ years there are infinite ways to make disciples.

You are only limited by your imagination.  From organic to highly programmatic.  New approaches are being developed as you read this blog.

I am focusing on the absolute minimum support a discipler or disciplemaker requires to make disciples.  Specifically if the discipler has adopted a coach approach because the people the disciple coach is engaging with have aborted absolute Truth, are highly individualistic and secular.  I have been addressing the bare essentials a disciple coach needs to sustain their ministry in the previous blogs.

Here are the first four habits of a disciple coach:

  1. Missional Values
  2. Active Prayer
  3. Relational Connections
  4. Disciplemaking Cycle

The fifth and final habit is Strategic Partnerships.

Partnerships that support disciplemaking relationships are multi-faceted and keep the disciple coach on-mission:

  • Partnership with God
  • Partnership with those the disciple coach has engaged with on their spiritual journey
  • Partnerships with trusted mentors

It would be easy to focus on any of these to the exclusion of the other two or to focus on two and miss the third.  Best case scenario is to have all three going on to some degree but  that can’t always be the case – but is optimum.  Here is a simple example.

As a disciple coach you and I are doing life in community of a small group of other disciple coaches who are on-mission loving God, loving their neighbor and making disciples.  Partnerships within the group encourage and support the three values.  When a disciple takes the next step on their spiritual journey to find and follow Jesus – it is celebrated!  This might take the form of an act of service, a generous gift of one’s resources or taking a step of faith to pray for the very first time.  Whatever it is – the group synergistically supports the work of the disciple coach.

The other Strategic Partnerships the disciple coach nurtures is with not-yet Christians.  Right now, during varying degrees of lock-down around the country and the globe – developing new relationships is complicated.  The situation solicits creative ideas.  A church planter that I work with has launched a virtual Youth Alpha.  This has provided an opportunity to form small pods of young people to emerge where redemptive relationships are being formed that will growth as the church transitions to in-person gatherings.  Whatever the needs, the Lord instills creative ideas in the minds and hearts if disciple coaches – even during the most challenging times.

This completes the list.  I am sure you have some thought of what else a disciple coach needs to support the work of making disciples.  Would you please e-mail me your thoughts or enter your ideas un the “reply box” below.





“In order to develop a framework, it is necessary to be clear about what you are trying to accomplish;

what are the identifiable traits of loving God, loving others and making disciples.

You need to start with the big picture.”

As You Go… Make Disciples by Colin Noyes

March 2020 we launched our first Leadership Collective.  The Leadership Collective facilitates a learning community of up to 15 church planters, pastors and network leaders to assess and strengthen their leadership pipelines, beginning with the newest disciples of Jesus.  After the 2-day, in person event, the state of CA shut-down!  Little did we know then, that the shut down would last as long as it has.

What did we learn about disciplemaking through the Leadership Collective during the pandemic?

  1. The mission will always trump religion!
  2. The Gospel will thrive during times of adversity!
  3. The process of making disciples must be reproducible!

Let me briefly unpack each of these points:

The mission will always trump religion!

Sadly, Barna reported that 1 in 3 practicing Christians stopped attending church during the pandemic (July 2020).  What does this statistic suggest?  I’m not a statistician but I believe the last year did some necessary sifting and the result speaks for itself.

  • Church leaders that were making disciples before the pandemic were able to bare down on the mission.
  • Church leaders that weren’t making disciple were reminded what the mission is and made a quick pivot.

The Gospel will thrive during times of adversity!

You might be wondering what thriving looks like?  Thriving in my use of the term here is the manner in which followers of Jesus chose to respond to the circumstances sourounding the pandemic.  Some chose to remain open, curious and committed to learning.  Others chose to be closed, judgmental and unwilling to learn.  Those who chose the former are thriving and those who chose the latter – not so much..

  • Church leaders that had an intentional small group ministry with 80% or more of their adults in small groups, survived and some are thriving.
  • Church leaders tested new platforms for virtual ministry to expand their reach.
  • Church leaders that did not meet that threshold are playing catch-up.

The process of making disciples must be reproducible

Leaders in the Leadership Collective were challenged to share their disciplemaking cycle using a napkin, record their explanation and enter the 3-minute video in a friendly competition.  The idea is that if you can illustrate your cycle on a napkin it will probably be clear and simple enough to reproduce in other disciples.  This is what we discovered last year.

  • Church leaders with a reproducible process put more and more energy into making disicples, that were making disciples.
  • Church leaders that had a rough idea of their process further refined it to make it more transferable.

Where are you and your congregation? 

Below are a couple of resources that might help you assess your disciplemaking process, begin coaching disciples you are making and replicate that with other disciplemakers.

Making Disciples Coaching Guide with Storyboard

Making Disciples Coaching Guide with Storyboard


Making Disciples Storyboard

Making Disciples Storyboard

Habit #3: RELATIONAL CONNECTIONS – balancing the tension between “insiders” and “outsiders” as a disciple coach

Habit #3: RELATIONAL CONNECTIONS – balancing the tension between “insiders” and “outsiders” as a disciple coach

One of the lessons Jesus lived-out with his disciples was the importance of relationships.  Inside the band of disciples the relationships were deeper.  There was John; then Peter and James; then the other nine.  Outside the band of disciples were a wide assortment of people Jesus related to ranging from religious to non-religious people, far from God.  The lesson Jesus taught his disciples was to live in both worlds.

In my last blog I presented the habit: Missional Values.  I explained what I mean by missional values:

  • Missional = disciples making disciples into the 3rd & 4th generation
  • Values = principles that drive missional behaviors

Simply put, Missional Values guide people who are making disciples into the 3rd & 4th generation.

This may seem so basic, but if followers of Jesus focused on Active Prayer (Habit #1) and Missional Values (Habit #2) we might see an upward tick in the calibre of disciples being made.  What do you think?

The goal of this exercise is to arrive at the essential support, resources or training a disciple needs – to make disciples, that make disciples.  

Now let’s take a look at two areas of focus under RELATIONAL CONNECTIONS:

  1. Relationships with non-Christians
  2. Relationships with Christians

It is challenging to live in the tension of developing relationships with people near to God (insiders) and with other people who far from God (outsiders).  It is challenging but this is the way Jesus lived and the way he trained his disciples   In my life it is easy to make excuses and end up not doing either well.  How about you?

Research tells us that after a relatively short period of time (the most conservative estimate is 2 years but some say 3-6 months is more accurate) new Christians lose contact with their non-Christian friends.  My earliest memories of connecting with outsiders goes back to when I was in elementary school and I felt the compulsion to invite my neighbor to church.  I did eventually give an invitation and I thought that was a major accomplishment.  I also remember my mom hosting a VBS in our backyard (to my introverted self it felt like an intrusion on my privacy) forcing me to put my faith “out there”.  My dad took a bold step and invited all 300+ employees from his plant to an outreach event at our church during the holiday called the Living Christmas Tree.  Together they led a vibrant ministry to singles and singles-again through our home church.  There were fits and starts through my  college years as I attempted to connect with outsiders.  In my estimation the lineage of disciplemaking is more of a squiggly line than an upward trajectory.  And perhaps that is a good insight to capture here – disciplemaking is hard work, with little reward (at least in the here and now).

I honestly believe people like my mom and dad have an amazing lineage of people who are now celebrating with their Lord and Savior in heaven.   You may be that kind of person.  In this habit I want to encourage you to take a honest look and see yourself as God created you.  And take on the challenge to develop relationships with both insiders and outsiders to make disciples.  I have 30+ years of experience, coaching amazing leaders I’ve had the privilege of working with that have soul-crushing stories of how God has used them to empower others to connect with insiders and outsiders through starting and reproducing healthy churches.

You might be wired more like an introvert than an extrovert.  That does not give you an excuse.  It does suggest that you will build different kinds of relationships than your extrovert friends.  You may be an extrovert and you have an amazing ability to connect with people.  But developing connections in and of itself is not the mission – making disciples is; therefore, be certain that you have a path to help others follow you, as you follow Jesus.

That leads us to the following habit which we will cover next time – STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS.

Habit #2: Missional Values guide disciples into the 3rd & 4th generation

Habit #2: Missional Values guide disciples into the 3rd & 4th generation

I’ve been pondering this question for some time now: “What essential support, resources or training does a disciple need to make disciples, that make disciples?”

Back in the fall of 2020 I began a conversation with one of my friends who was asking the same question.   Glenn worked in industry his entire career and has a pretty good pulse on how to make disciples in places the local church is having little success.  In fact, one of the catalysts for Glenn has been his frustration with participating in local churches but seeing little impact made beyond the walls of the church building.  Simultaneously, I’ve informally asked people what they really need.  I’ve blogged about some of those ideas.  Glenn and I are working at refining the list.

In my last blog I presented the habit: Active Prayer.  We identified two areas of focus that a disciple could benefit from in his/her prayer life.

  • Prayer for self 
  • Prayer for people God has placed in their life to coach on their spiritual journey

Now I want to circle back around to the second habit on the list: Missional Values.  What do I mean by missional values?  Let’s start with “missional”.  And then define “values”.

  • Missional = disciples making disciples into the 3rd & 4th generation
  • Values = principles that drive missional behaviors

Simply put, Missional Values guide people who are making disciples into the 3rd & 4th generation.

In our conversations with people, the three missional values we see in Scripture and are verified in ministry with other leaders include:

  • Loving God
  • Loving your neighbor
  • Making disciples

It is like a three-legged stool.

One leg without the other two is worthless.  Two without the one is broken.  All three legs must be solid.

This is the reason why the habit made it’s way into the list.  Without missional values the motivation will always be lacking.  A person may make disciples for other reason like:

  • obligation
  • guilt
  • legalistic teaching

When a person embraces these it is hard to NOT make disciples: Loving God, Loving your neighbor and Making disciples.

How important are these three values to you?