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Three Thirds

Updated: Mar 23, 2019

by Dave Miller

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Don’t forget these words. They describe a simple reproducible disciple-making method called the three-thirds (3/3rds) process. Built into these thirds is the irreducible minimum of disciple making.

The 3/3rds process has been developed in the crucible of church planting movements. It helped catalyze one of the largest mission movements in history. In 2011, referencing this Chinese movement led by Ying Kai and his wife Grace, David Garrison wrote:

Since its inception in 2001, this movement has documented more than 1.7 million baptisms and more than 150,000 new church starts. Truly we have never seen anything quite like this movement that is now influencing other mission efforts throughout the world.[1]

Steve Smith along with Ying Kai, looking back on that movement, wrote:

“The [core process] that enables believers to gain confidence and competence to be used by God as trainers is the three-thirds process.”[2]

Christians are using this process all around the world to make disciples, including thousands in the United States.

We could spend time debating the pros and cons of church planting movements in the next few paragraphs and get completely sidetracked, or we could recognize the monumental know-how that is now handed down to you. Over a decade of on-the-ground disciple making experience has been honed into a gospel-centered disciple-making engine usable by anyone, including you and me.[3]

After my trial-and-error disciple making filled with failed attempts and cumbersome complexity, this process pulled together my theological convictions in a simple reproducible model.

Take a look at the following to get a first look at how we use these elements to make disciples in our "christian culture" context:

Do you see each element? Can you find the each element in the example above?

We use a simpler version when working in contexts with language and literacy barriers. We get as simple as necessary to get new disciples started. As we will see the importance is placed on learning from God's Word and obeying what the Spirit teaches.

This overview is the view from 30,000 feet. Now let’s get into how and why this process works. We will build from scripture the gospel power and practical outworking of our theology embedded in this simple tool.

Until there's #NoPlaceLeft...


[1]Smith, Steve; Kai, with Ying (2011-09-21). T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution (Kindle Locations 153-155). WIGTake Resources, LLC. Kindle Edition.

[2]Smith, Steve; Kai, with Ying (2011-09-21). T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution (Kindle Locations 1876-1877). WIGTake Resources, LLC. Kindle Edition.

[3]The seven parts used are a slight variation in groupings from the original in T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution, but consist of the same elements. The variation is simply because our accountability tools also cast vision, while we add more emphasis on obedience goals in the American cultural context. The importance is not in specific categories but practicing each element in an effective way. With time and experience you will tweak and make beneficial adjustments for your environment. Most important is that you try.


Sentergy: When Jesus, People, Practice and Theology Collide

Chapter 1: The Glory of God


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