top of page

An NPL Church Discipleship Strategy

by Jacob Brooks #NPLOKC


Using simple and reproducible methods, make disciples who

                                          1. Know their identity in Christ. 

                                          2. Respond in obedience and walk in this new identity

                                          3. Make disciples who make disciples.


4 major components: 

  1. The Church Circle

  2. The Commands of Christ

  3. The Three Thirds Process

  4. Multiplication: via the 1-3-9 Principle and 10 for 10

The Church Circle 

The Church Circle (read from top to bottom AND left to right) is based off of Acts 2:36-47. Each section in the circle corresponds to a different portion of Scripture. In particular, each section represents a practice/principle that was represented and carried out by the first church.

First, we see that at after Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, people were cut to the heart by the message of the gospel and responded by repenting and believing (sections 1 and 2 of circle). After repenting and believing the gospel, they were then baptized and received the gift of the Holy Spirit (sections 3 and 4 of circle).

Then, the church devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (section 5), to the fellowship (section 6), to the breaking of bread (section 7), and to prayer (section 8).

As a result of each of these previous practices, we see that wonders and signs were being done through the apostles (section 9), everyone was generous in his or her giving of time and resources (section 10), everyone worshipped and praised the Lord (section 11), and people were added to their number daily-multiplication was happening (section 12). 

Digging a bit deeper, the top row of the church circle is all about our identity. They are realities in which we live and walk.

First, everything begins with the gospel. After hearing the gospel, we respond to the gospel. The gospel is the power unto our salvation. It is the word that breaks into the darkness of our hearts and brings forth light. Through the gospel, Christ gives us our new identity. Then, as we hear and believe the gospel, we repent. Repentance is not a one-time event, either. Yes, there is an initial moment where we repent and believe. However, the gospel is not the diving board in which we jump into Christianity; it is the pool in which we jump into. The gospel sets forth a lifetime of repentance. The life of faith is a life of repentance. The Gospel has made us new, and now when we sin or fall short, we repent, reorienting our hearts and our minds on Christ, going back to our new identity. Next, after repenting and believing in the gospel, we are baptized. This baptism is not what saves, but it is what further identifies us with Christ and with His body. It symbolizes that we have been crucified with Christ, buried with Christ, and now raised to new life with Christ. Our baptism symbolizes our new identity. Lastly, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. As we are raised from death to life in Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of the Living God comes and dwells in us, leading us into all truth and teaching us to remember all that Christ commanded. So, in light of these realities and our new identity, how are we to respond?  

The second row of the circle represents how we are to respond and walk in our new identity. Both in our own abiding with Christ and in the community of the church, we are to devote ourselves to God’s Word, we are to devote ourselves to fellowship, we are to devote ourselves to the breaking of bread with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we are to devote ourselves to prayer. Each of the practices brings us into the presence of God, both fostering our own individual abiding with Jesus and prompting the edification and uplifting of the church. The first church modeled what they practiced after the first disciple maker—Jesus—so it is wise we do the same.

The last row of the church circle is the overflow of the first two rows. As we are walking in our new identity, characterized by a life of repentance and obedience, as well as practicing the presence of God found in the second row, the natural outflow will be signs and wonders, a generous and giving attitude and heart, worship, and multiplication. 

Thus, the church circle is a tool that helps simplify these principles and practices found in Acts 2. With this tool, these concepts and principles can be more easily understood and grasped, leading to a deeper understanding of the church and our identity, a greater understanding to the task of discipleship, and a simpler way that these principles can be lived out and multiplied, both individually and in community. If we want to begin to disciple someone or a group of people, we must first start with identity and help them answer the questions: who are they in Christ and how are they to walk forward in that new identity? This leads us to the second major component: The Commands of Christ. 

The Commands of Christ  

1. Repent and Believe 

Command: Mark 1:15

Story: Zacchaeus’ Story (Luke 19:1-10) 

2. Be baptized 

Command: Matthew 28:19

Story: Philip and the Ethiopian (Acts 8:26-39)

3. The Holy Spirit

Story: If Your Love Me (John 14:15-26)

4. Abide in God’s Word

Command: John 8:31-32

Story: The Vine and the Branches (John 15:1-11)

5. Love One Another

Command: John 15:12

Story: The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)

6. Share the Lord’s Supper

Command: Luke 22:19-20

Story: The Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:7-20)

7. Pray

Command: Matthew 6:9

Story: The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:5-15)

8. Work of the Holy Spirit

Story: Greater Works (John 14:6-14)

9. Give 

Command: Matthew 6:1-4

Story: The Generous Widow (Mark 12:41-44)

10. Worship

Command: Mark 12:29-30

Story: A Forgiven Woman (Luke 7:36-50)

11. Make Disciples 

Command: Matthew 28:19-20

Story: Jesus send his disciples (Luke 10:1-11)

12. Gather 

Command: Hebrews 10:24-25

Story: The First Church (Acts 2:37-47)

In response to the Church Circle, the Commands of Christ is a Bible study based off the circle that teaches followers of Christ how to abide in the presence of Jesus and how to walk in the new identity we have been given. Our identity is one of abiding in Jesus and responding in obedience to his commands and leadings.

So, how do we abide and what do we obey? The Commands of Christ are a solid starting point on the basics on how to do these things. Each command is a different lesson, and alongside the Scripture that we see Jesus actually issue the command, a story is also given to talk through and discuss. These supplemental stories give us examples of each command being walked out. Thus, as these commands and stories are being discussed and prayed through, those being discipled will gain a deeper understanding of their identity and what commands they are to obey. It will teach them their identity, and it will teach them how to abide. 

The Three Thirds Process

The Three Thirds Process is a discipleship structure that emphasizes and prioritizes God’s Word, obedience, and accountability. It consists of 3 parts: Looking Back, Looking Up, and Looking Forward. The structure is seen below: 

Looking Back (Pastoral Care and Loving Accountability) 

Pastoral Care: Minister to the needs of the group. 

                                 Debrief the previous week’s goals.

                                Ask questions: “How are you doing?” 

                                                           “What are you thankful for this week?” 

                                                           “What challenges did you face this week?” 

Accountability: A time to ask questions and see how your disciples are responding     in obedience to what Jesus taught them through the Word and to making disciples. 

                                Ask questions: “How did you apply or obey last week’s lesson?”

                                                           “Who did you share the story with last week?” 

                                                           “Who did you share the gospel with?”

                                                            “Who did you get to train this week?” 

Looking Up (New Story)

Use the Commands of Christ bible study. 

Tell or read the new story. Re-tell the story as a group. Re-read the story twice. 

Make sure each person can re-tell the story on their own. 

Once each person has the story down, discuss the passage using the SWORD method, a type of discovery bible study. This study emphasizes and prompts each participant to read God’s Word and discover through Scripture what the Lord is trying to each them. It is Scripture based and Scripture driven. The structure can be seen below: 

Looking Forward (Practice, Goal Setting, Vision Cast, Pray)

Practice re-telling the story again. 

Set goals for the next week. 

Following goals- how will we look to abide with Jesus this week?

Fishing goals- how will we look to make disciples this week? 

Vision cast- Share words of encouragement and challenge disciples to keep pushing forward in abiding, obedience, and boldness. 

Prayer- End the time together in prayer, over what you have learned during the lesson and in looking ahead to the coming week. 

Through the Three-Thirds Process, as the leader and the disciples walk through Scripture (the Commands of Christ) and discuss each passage using the SWORD method, each participant will encounter truths and commands that he or she is called to obey. These truths and commands are Scripture driven and Holy Spirit-directed. Then, each participant is asked to set goals in order to begin forming the lifestyle of obedience.

As we read God’s Word, we are called to be doers of His Word. Furthermore, as we have seen, our identity is found in obedience to Christ’s commands. The accountability therefore helps foster this attitude and lifestyle of obedience. Thus, as each participant is reading the Word, setting these goals, and seeking to walk in obedience, their own individual abiding with the Lord will be nurtured and they will grow in their identity as a faithful and obedient disciple. 

Multiplication via the 1-3-9 Principle and 10 for 10

The last crucial component of this church discipleship strategy is multiplication. Any strategy or method must be reproducible. It must be simple so that those who are learning it can turn right around and teach it to others. The Church Circle, the Commands of Christ, the Three-Thirds Process, and the SWORD method are very simple and very reproducible methods. Thus, as we are walking through these things together, each participant is challenged to determine their 10 for 10 list and to find their three people they can be discipling. 

10 for 10 list 

This is a list of 10 people that each participant knows who are far from God. This can be a family member; a friend; or a person you don’t really know but encounter every day, such as a cashier or barista at your favorite coffee shop. Be praying about who these 10 people are, and begin praying for each person, seeking to share with them and disciple them. 

1-3-9 Principle

For multiplication to happen, discipleship must be happening in a reproducible way. This principle is based on Jesus’ example. Though He had many, many disciples, he specifically spent extra time investing in three of them: Peter, James, and John. Thus, we challenge each participant to find their own three people whom they can be pouring into and teaching the very same things as they have learned from this strategy. Then, as they are teaching and training them, they will be equipping them to teach and train others so that the Kingdom can be multiplied.


Jacob Brooks recently moved to Oklahoma City to join the UPG Church Planting Network, though everyone knows it was really just to marry Jessica. He is completing his M.Div at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary while working a full-time job.

Bình luận

bottom of page