3. Discipling In The First Few Months


1. First priority: Obedience to Jesus

The entire goal of discipleship is obedience to the commands of Jesus that comes from a heart of love (Matthew 28:19-20). Keep this as your priority every time you meet and whatever you do with a new disciple. This emphasis on obedience speeds both maturity and spiritual reproduction (Luke 6:40).

Initially the new disciple, or disciples if a family or group have come to know Jesus, will be

Taken through the 9 commands of Jesus which emphasise obedience to their new Lord and master (Matthew 7:24-27). Then it is time to go on to other Gospel stories.

The new disciple should also be tagging along whenever you are out and about sowing Gospel seeds of any type. You will be training them in all the techniques you know in building the kingdom (Luke 8:1).

You will also be speaking into their life and helping them iron out the spiritual and social issues that have plagued them all their lives (Romans 12:2). This could involve relationship issues, or addictions, or finances, or a hundred other things. When helping them always try to point them to scriptural principles by starting with “let’s see what the Bible says about this issue”. If you don’t know what the Bible says, tell them you will get back to them as soon as possible. Much of this process will be handled in the regular DBS studies. (2 Timothy 2:15). Pointing them to scripture locks in the importance of the Bible as their authority, not you.

When these patterns have been set up properly the new disciple will simply continue on in them as they grow in the Holy Spirit.

2. Patterns of prayer and soul winning

Always practice passionate prayer yourself as the new disciple will copy your standards. Encourage them to pray for their unsaved loved ones all the time. Victor John, leader of the 12 million strong Bhojpuri DMM in India, says prayer is the heartbeat of his  movement and in the DNA of every believer.

Many West African DMM groups that have come out of a Muslim background also practice weekly fasting and prayer, half night weekly group prayer and monthly all-night prayer for the lost people that live around their DMM church groups. These believers are really serious about spreading the Good News to their fellow Muslims. They know the battle is in the spirit, not in the natural realm (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Answered prayer is the most powerful confirmation the new disciples are on the right track. Once they see supernatural answers to prayer they will very rarely turn away from following Jesus. So always encourage them to expect and pray for miracles in the lives of others as well as all the other signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).

3. Step back even more but coach from the sidelines

After a month or so, and if there are at least two new disciples gathering for a DBS and maturing in obedience to Jesus, you will now be operating in the role of a mentor who comes and goes rather than being present for the meetings. This is for two reasons:

  1. You could also have other DBS meetings you are setting up
  2. You could be out busy sowing Gospel seeds in areas closer to where you live.
  3. You will slow down their maturity in Jesus if you stay too long. We want them to take ownership as soon as possible.

Paul also stayed with his new churches for a few weeks teaching and training intensely. Then he left them and trusted them to the Holy Spirit while coaching them from the sidelines through letters that we now read in the New Testament. Likewise, we are not to be smothering spiritual parents. We are to use the now familiar pattern:

I do, you watch.

I do, you help.

You do, I help.

You do, I watch

4. Continuing a DBS with them from a distance

For further DBS topics after the 9 commands of Jesus, move on to other Gospel passages so they can more fully understand the life and ministry of Jesus, and our authority as disciples. The many questions and queries from the new disciple will also provide you with more than enough ideas for studies. Then there are individual studies and training in leadership for those who are showing signs of really taking off.

Above all, in whatever you do, use simple tools that the new disciple can reproduce with others. This sets the good DNA for their future Christian walk. Don’t hold them back either if they start to become passionate about the harvest. Winning the lost and discipling them how we learn best.

5. Expect Transformation and multiplication

These first few months are a very precious time where their family and friends start to see changes in the disciples life and want to know more. Others could be coming to Jesus as well. Exciting times!


Ideally, many new disciples will come to faith in small groups because a person of peace (Luke 10:5-7) has opened the door to their family and friends. There are a few differences when discipling a group compared to an individual, but generally it is better in groups as growth is faster. This is why Jesus specifically asked us to look for these persons of peace (Matthew 10:11-13). It’s his secret formula for DMM multiplication. Discipleship groups:

  1. Remember more
  2. Learn quicker
  3. Back each other up
  4. Hold each other more accountable
  5. Replicate faster and more often
  6. Self-correct

Tips for a successful group

  1. When discipling a small group always start with the vision of multiplication. Who else needs to hear this message?
  2. Also start a the group at their chosen venue. The reason is that they own the group. It’s on their territory so they feel more comfortable and in charge.
  3. Before long you will see a leader emerge. These people can then receive extra mentoring from you in leading others.
  4. Try to use the principle of two-by-two training as Jesus did (Luke 10:1).
  5. If families have come to Jesus, encourage the family head to lead regular DMS and pray for the lost with his/her family. This is the job of every believing parent!
  6. Get ready to transition the group into a fully-fledged DMM simple church. There are lots of instructions to help in this transition in the lessons in Field Four: Harvest.


Here are a few snippets of what should be happening over the longer term. You should, on average, be seeing your disciples:

  1. Transitioning to self-feeding on scripture and obedience to a holy life.
  2. Fully trained in being led by the spirit of the Lord in service to others.
  3. Renewing their minds of their worldly lifestyle world and superstitions.
  4. Undertaking deeper but practical theological training with you as their spiritual parent.
  5. Launching their own ministries, and leading others to Jesus.
  6. Forming and mentoring new simple churches.
  7. Coaching other emerging leaders if they are a 4th Soil person.

Every growth pattern will be different because every circumstance and every heart and personal gifting is different. These points above are guidelines only. The general pattern for most DMM’s is that things move slowly at first because God is doing a deep transformational work in human hearts. Then they go much faster later as exponential growth kicks in. It’s a little like the coronavirus; slow at first, but growing rapidly later on as multiplication starts to kick in.


Find an existing DMM church planter and interview them as to how they grow simple churches. Learn from their wisdom so you know what to do later in your ministry.