The Disciple Maker's Loop

Making disciples is far simpler than most of us realize. While consumerism tries to convince us that only experts can figure it out, the truth is the disciple making can be as easy as walking.

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Have you ever stopped to think about the process of walking? For a toddler, the walking loop isn’t easy, but it is simple. Lift right foot, place ahead of left foot, lift left foot, place ahead of right foot, repeat as desired. After a few months of practice, walking is easy. In a short time, kids do the loop without even thinking about it. Now it’s second nature to them. The disciple making loop is similar.

The disciple making loop clarifies the process of discipleship into six memorable steps. Before I unveil those six steps, let’s establish that neither the walking loop nor the disciple making loop contains everything needed to do the job. A loop isn’t a discipleship curriculum, step-by-step instruction booklet, or even an expansive definition. Instead, it’s a cheat-sheet of what we want to make sure we don’t forget!

So, let’s get to it…The disciple maker’s loop has six parts to it. It’s best used to help a person grow in any practice of faith or life. Let’s look at each step one-by-one as it pertains to prayer…

1. Teach Him What. The first step is to teach him about prayer. Teaching is the most common aspect of discipleship. It’s the reason most churches knowledge outpace their practices. Still, teaching is important (2 Tim. 3:16) and should be done well.

2. Tell Her Why. After she understands what prayer is she needs to know her why it’s important. Why helps a disciple build inner conviction and motivation. A skilled discipler addresses the why through both the Scriptures (Acts 17:11) and through personal testimony. So, I pray not just because Scripture says it’s important but because I have experienced the difference it makes in my life. The personal testimony puts flesh on the doctrine and encourages the disciple to follow suit.

3. Show Him How. It’s not enough to teach him what prayer is and why it’s important. If you want him to pray, then you need to show him how to pray. We do this by praying together and explaining what you’re doing and why. Whether you use the ACTS acronym, the Lord’s prayer (Matt 6:9-13), or another method, if you expect him to do it, then you need to do it with him.   

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4. Get Her Started. Now that you’ve taught what, told why, and shown how, she needs to start. This goal-setting step should be done cooperatively. Asking simple questions such as, “How many days a week do you think you could have an intentional prayer time this week?” and “About how long do you want to make each session?” help the disciple set attainable goals. In addition to asking questions, the discipler should focus on encouraging here. Seeking to join her for one of these prayer times also shows your care for her and priority of application here.

5. Keep Him Going. Since the goal is transformation, not just a week or two of improved prayer you must help him keep going. A pitfall many disciplers fall into is to assume a new practice is still going a few months after you focused on it. As we know from our own lives, we need accountability and encouragement to keep going. Regularly revisit topics that you’ve helped a person through with this loop.

6. Help Her Pass it On. Finally, since the fruit of a disciple is a disciple maker she needs to pass-it-on. Sharing with someone else how you’ve changed invites others into our lives and sets us up as influencers. Additionally, clearly explaining something to someone is a final step towards mastery and ownership. As a disciple who regularly shares new insights and skills with others is equipping herself as a disciple maker. Such regular practice allows her to make disciples without being dependent upon discipleship curriculum

The disciple making loop is six simple steps:

1. Teach him/her what.

2. Tell him/her why.

3. Tell him/her how.

4. Get him/her started.

5. Keep him/her going.

6. Help him/her pass-it-on.

Disciple making really is simple enough for the ordinary and unschooled. Using the disciple making loop to teach the fundamentals (specifically #2 and #3) helps us catch the vision for how to do it.

One last thing, while disciple making is simple, it isn’t easy. Developing someone in the seven basics using this loop takes months if not years. We must be prayerful, patient, and persistent as we await the lasting fruit of transformation.